MA hospital operators push back against proposed Partners deal

Many hospital operators in Massachusetts joined forces to push back against a deal proposed by Attorney General Martha Coakley that would allow Partners Healthcare to acquire three hospitals in exchange for some restrictions on pricing and future growth.

Executives with major hospital operators in the Bay State, such as Tufts Medical Center, Beth-Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health have voiced objections over the deal, citing concerns that it would allow Partners to become too large in relation to other providers in the region, WBUR reports.

"The concern is that Partners is a system that has currently three times of the size of any system in Massachusetts," Tufts Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Dan Guzman told WBUR. "With the proposed AG deal, this would take it to four times the size of the next largest system."

Coakley and Partners agreed to a deal last month, FierceHealthFinance previously reported. Under its general terms, Partners agreed to curb its prices for medical services by tying them to the general rate of inflation, which is currently about 2 percent per year. The deal would also prevent the organization from obtaining additional physician groups and hospitals for an unspecific period of time. A state court may approve the deal as early as the end of this month.

In response, the hospitals have formed a coalition demanding greater transparency, claiming the deal will add billions of dollars to Partners' bottom line while greatly increasing its market share and leverage.

"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, M.D., chief executive officer of Lahey Health, in a statement. "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."

Meanwhile, Partners has said it plans to create a new healthcare delivery model, integrated with payer products and services.

To learn more:
- read the WBUR article        
- read the statement