A lot of people were surprised that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey sent a letter last week to the Health Policy Commission, expressing concerns about the merger of Beth Israel Deaconess, Lahey Health, New England Baptist, Mount Auburn and Anna Jacques. Usually the AG would comment later if at all, but the letter throws the whole merger into doubt.
The Boston Business Journal interviewed me about the topic. Here’s what I said:
Health care expert David Williams said the attorney general’s early involvement could speed up the overall review, but may also mean that conditions imposed will have more teeth.
“Whenever the AG is involved it gets pretty legalistic and sometimes confrontational in a way that working with the HPC would not necessarily do,” said Williams, who works with Boston consulting firm Health Business Group. “I think what it means is that any terms and conditions that are agreed to as part of the merger are more likely to be enforceable if the AG is involved because they have more tools at their disposal.”
He said the attorney general’s early involvement reflected the concerns raised by competing hospital Tufts Medical Center and a community group that has ties to Steward Health Care.
“Presumably, the AG has heard from these organizations and decided to take their concerns seriously,” he said. “It’s likely she is trying to influence the terms of the merger in order to mitigate these issues.”
I also told the reporter that there were “eerie” similarities in the arguments made by this group and what Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s said way back when they formed Partners, e.g., that healthcare costs would drop as a result.