Report: Mass. hospital consolidation would drive up costs for consumers
A Massachusetts commission opposes Partners HealthCare System's proposed takeover of South Shore Hospital, citing expected cost hikes for patients and quelling competition without improving the quality of care.
The Health Policy Commission report urged the two facilities to drop the merger, estimating medical spending could increase by $23 million to $26 million per year for insurance providers Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan. Increases in physician prices and charges due to the merger would likely get passed on to consumers and employers, the report states.
The report also included a review of the largest healthcare provider in the state's proposal to take over Harbor Medical Associates, a physicians' group associated with 378-bed South Shore Hospital in Weymouth.
Partners and South Shore, however, plan to move forward with their plans and dispute the findings in the report, which they claim was based on outdated numbers. Officials argue the merger would give patients more services and make care more affordable, the article states.
The commission also reported the deal to the attorney general's office, which must approve the move, the Patriot Ledger reports. However, commission members said there's still time for the entities to reconfigure the proposal to negate the undesired impacts.
Both Partners and South Shore Hospital are nonprofit organizations, according to the article, with Partners' hospitals including Massachusetts General Hospital, Newton-Wellesley Hospital and several others in the state.
Massachusetts isn't the only state to quash plans for expansion and takeovers. In North Carolina, the Court of Appeals shut down Novant Health's request to build a hospital in Wake County, according to Newsobserver.com, ruling that the hospital failed to make its case for building in Holly Springs.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Federal Trade Commission's efforts to block a Georgia hospital merger on antitrust grounds, agreeing that the purchase of Palmyra Medical Center by Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, the only other hospital in Dougherty County, Ga., would reduce competition among acute-care hospitals in the area, FierceHealthcare previously reported.
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