Partners HealthCare receives lion's share of MA provider payments

Although Partners HealthCare does not have a monopoly on hospital care in Massachusetts, it has secured a large chunk of the state's cash flow to acute care providers, the Boston Globe reported.

According to the Globe, more than 30 percent of all money the state's payers doled out to acute care providers last year would up in Partners' coffers. Caregroup, which operates Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, was a distant second, with 10 percent of the payments.

The 10-hospital system, which has 6,000 affiliated physicians, also wound up with a quarter of the payments made to the state's doctors in 2011.

"We have known for a long time that Partners is the king of the hill," Stuart Altman, a Brandeis University professor and chairman of the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (MHPC), told the Globe.

But the MHPC's first report on the how healthcare money is divvied up in the Bay State did not single out Partners. It noted that the 80 percent of money spent on healthcare services went to the most expensive providers, which included Partners, Caregroup, Berkshire Health System and Atrius Health.

Altman said the way healthcare delivery is structured in Massachusetts often encourages patients to use pricier teaching hospitals.

However, public payers such as Medicaid have begun ratcheting back payments. As a result, Partners reported that its operating income for the fiscal third quarter dropped to $97.4 million from $116 million a year ago.

For more:
- read the Boston Globe article and blog post on Partners' earnings
- check out the MHPC report (.pdf)