Broad Coalition Forms in Response to Proposed Partners-AG Agreement

| Posted On Jun 17, 2014 | By:

Healthcare providers across Massachusetts including Atrius Health, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Cambridge Health Alliance, Lahey Health Systems, Tufts Medical Center and other hospitals and physician groups have formed a coalition calling for a public process around the recently proposed settlement between Partners HealthCare and the Attorney General.

“Although we are competitors, we have joined together to draw attention to the threats posed to the Massachusetts healthcare system by the proposed deal between the Attorney General and Partners HealthCare,” said Howard Grant, JD, MD, president and chief executive officer of Lahey Health. “Members of the public, as well as healthcare providers, have received little information about this deal, though it will permanently transform how we deliver and receive healthcare. The proposal was crafted without the input of, or review by, the patients, doctors, nurses, caregivers, policymakers, employers, and other stakeholders who have worked so hard to reform the healthcare system.”

Coalition members yesterday delivered a letter to Attorney General Martha Coakley outlining concerns about the “significant and deleterious impacts” the proposed deal would have on the “entire Massachusetts marketplace” and raising questions about why the settlement proposal bypassed the Health Policy Commission’s Market Impact and Cost Review process.

“The proposal approves unprecedented expansion of the market’s largest health care system, which, according to the Attorney General herself, has used its market power to cement market-leading prices, resulting in some of the highest health care costs in the nation. In light of the magnitude of this deal, the HPC should be given time to hold public hearings and complete its review of all components of the proposed settlement before this deal is approved,” said Michael Wagner, MD, president and chief executive officer, Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children.

Members of the coalition include: Anna Jacques Hospital, Atrius Health, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and its affiliates (Beth Israel Deaconess hospitals BID Needham, BID Milton, and BID Plymouth), Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians at BIDMC, Lahey Health System (including Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Addison Gilbert Hospital, Beverly Hospital and Lahey Medical Center Peabody), Lowell General Hospital and Circle Health, Mount Auburn Hospital, New England Baptist Hospital, New England Quality Care Alliance, Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital, Tufts Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center Physicians Organization and Winchester Hospital.

Together, the members claim that the proposed Partners HealthCare-Attorney General agreement will allow Partners to:

“Increasing referrals and volume to higher-priced providers in Massachusetts runs counter to statewide efforts to promote access to affordable health care,” said Patrick Wardell, chief executive officer, Cambridge Health Alliance. “Given the sweeping reach of this agreement for years to come, our communities and patients deserve a thoughtful public process in which they can participate and understand the details of this deal. Based on the little that has been publicly disclosed, access to community-based health care is at stake, as this will drive up health care costs and widen the significant commercial insurance rate disparities that pose a threat to local health care access, particularly for underserved populations.”

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