<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Saturday, July 19, 2014


 Healthcare Economics
There is something of a flap going on in Massachusetts over the desire of Partners Health Care System (formed by the merger of Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital) to acquire three more hospitals in the Boston area, two in the north shore and one south.
Partners has for some time dominated health care delivery in eastern Massachusetts.  Its reputation is such that it would be nearly impossible to sell a health insurance policy in the area that didn’t cover its services.  Taking advantage of that, Partners has been able to leverage health insurance companies into paying it considerably higher rates than are paid to other providers.  That has caused some grousing, but up until now not enough to spur much in the way of action.
Partners’ proposed acquisitions require regulatory approval and a few weeks ago Martha Coakley, the state’s Attorney General, announced that she had reached agreement with Partners on conditions that would allow them to proceed, subject to approval by the Suffolk County Superior Court.  That has produced a small storm of protest.  Competing hospitals have filed objections.  Two gubernatorial candidates have come out against it.  Now the state’s Health Policy Commission, an advisory group, has expressed reservations.  The story has received coverage in the local press.
In my mind, the Partners merger should never have been allowed.  Its almost sole purpose of gaining negotiating power with payers was clear at the time to anyone who understood health care institutions and has been confirmed by its actions ever since.  But people have not wanted to believe that.   We have been very slow to accept that health care providers are not simply organizations engaged in the healing ministry, but also entities that engage in economic behavior.  When they find themselves with economic power, they exercise it. 
Maybe we are becoming more realistic about the matter.

 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

FREE counter and Web statistics from sitetracker.com