In case you missed this New York Times editorial — The Risks Of Hospital Mergers — the Times weighs in on the recent agreement that would allow Partners HealthCare to expand but restrict later growth and cap prices.
As the Times editorial board sees it, the 1994 merger of Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital was a mistake that offers lessons for the Obamacare era:
The experience in Massachusetts offers a cautionary tale to other states about the risks of big hospital mergers and the limits of antitrust law as a tool to break up a powerful market-dominating system once it is entrenched.
And it sees the agreement that Partners and attorney general Martha Coakley reached as possibly a "dubious bargain":
As this case moves forward, it will be important to find an appropriate balance between two concerns that tug in opposite directions. The Affordable Care Act has incentives that encourage hospitals and doctors to integrate their operations and collaborate to control costs and improve care, and Partners has been a leader in doing that. At the same time, such collaborations must not be allowed to accrue such market power that they stifle competition and drive up prices, as seems to have happened in Massachusetts in past years.
Read the full Times editorial here. Agree? Disagree? The public has until July 21 to submit comments on the agreement to Coakley's office, and the next court hearing on the agreement is set for Aug. 5.