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Risks of Hospital Mergers

Posted 7/9/2014

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  Perhaps an extra meditation session or at least some deep breathing would help. I have been struggling with the internet and locked screens and errors and unfathomable disappearances and lapses for almost an hour before reaching this point. I think the only reason that I haven't given up or thrown the computer out the window is because of the view. It is impossible to be totally stressed or frustrated while watching an osprey dive for fish or the bobbing heads of two seals who are playing in our cove.

  Please forgive any typos as going back to fix them usually makes the whole content disappear. I am going to quickly get to the point:: this excellent and worrisome essay from the New York Times about the dangers of hospital mergers. Massachusetts is offered up as an example, specifically Partners Health Care. Having lived and practiced through those first years of our own difficult merger (BI and NEDH), I well remember the many issues and intense feelings.

  Here is the start and a link. This is important to read as we all move through the rapid changes in US health care.

The Risks of Hospital Mergers

In retrospect, it looks as if Massachusetts made a serious mistake in 1994 when it let its two most prestigious (and costly) hospitals — Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, both affiliated with Harvard — merge into a single system known as Partners HealthCare. Investigations by the state attorney general’s office have documented that the merger gave the hospitals enormous market leverage to drive up health care costs in the Boston area by demanding high reimbursements from insurers that were unrelated to the quality or complexity of care delivered.

Now, belatedly, Attorney General Martha Coakley is trying to rein in the hospitals with a negotiated agreement that would at least slow the increases in Partners’ prices and limit the number of physician practices it can gobble up, albeit only temporarily.

The experience in Massachusetts offers a cautionary tale to other states


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