Why is the Globe picking on Charlie Baker?

Today’s Boston Globe (State Aided Baker’s Business Triumph) makes several points to undercut gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker’s claim to have turned around Harvard Pilgrim Health Care:

  1. Attorney General Thomas Reilly (a Democrat) petitioned the Supreme Judicial Court to put HPHC in receivership, which saved the company
  2. The state created a public/private alliance, which saved the company
  3. The state’s actions were against Baker’s stated principles, but he supported them
  4. He is a charming “slash and burn” artist
  5. HPHC imposed premium hikes on policyholders
  6. HPHC valued its real estate at market value rather than replacement value, increasing HPHC’s net worth and enabling borrowing
  7. HPHC used a “quirk of insurance accounting” to stage its turnaround
  8. Partners Healthcare bested HPHC in negotiations
  9. Tensions between HPHC and Partners remain

These criticisms are pretty weak.

  • On the first three, of course the state had to get involved. Baker came in to turn around the organization and he used the best tools at hand. In this case, working with the state was inevitable and in the best interests of HPHC
  • “Slash and burn” is a pretty loaded term. If someone needs to make cuts in staff it’s probably better to do it in a charming rather than menacing manner
  • Everybody imposed premium hikes, not just HPHC
  • Marking to market –valuing real estate at market value in this case– is not a problem assuming the real estate could actually be sold
  • Accounting has plenty of quirky rules. It’s not a problem to use them. Problems arise when you bend or break the rules
  • Partners bested everyone in negotiations (especially Tufts), not just HPHC
  • I hope there are some tensions between health plans and providers
August 5, 2009

2 thoughts on “Why is the Globe picking on Charlie Baker?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *