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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Health Care Market

Caritas Sale Closes

Seven months after they initially shook hands, Caritas Christi Health Care, the state's second largest hospital chain, officially closed its sale to an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management, a New York private equity firm. The deal culminates a four-year odyssey for Caritas to find a buyer to financially support its operations. While much discussion and energy has been put into the deal’s structure and financing, how the new owners business plan as a for-profit hospital plays out over the next three to five years will tell if for consumers, this was the right deal to make. The Caritas... Read more »

Happiest Place on Earth Report (Updated)

Georgia Maheras, HCFA's Private Market Policy Manager, is in Orlando this week as a consumer representative at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners fall meeting. She's one of 28 designated consumer voices, competing with thousands of insurance industry lobbyists for the ears of the 50 state insurance commissioners. Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner Joseph Murphy is in attendance. NAIC normally stays out of the headlines. But the ACA gives NAIC first crack at recommending the arcane details that determine the reach of the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) rules. Georgia wrote about... Read more »

DPH Approves Caritas Transfer

The Department of Public Health’s Public Health Council today put its stamp of approval on the transfer of the six Caritas Christi hospitals to Steward Health Care. Approval of the deal by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which is expected next week, will finalize the conversion of these Catholic owned hospitals to for-profit businesses run by Steward. The PHC confirmed the conditions placed on the deal by Attorney General Martha Coakley and also added its own conditions to ensure the hospitals provide interpreter services for its patients. Read more »

AG Mandates Consumer Protections in Sale of Caritas

Seven months ago, when the proposed sale of the Caritas Christi hospital network to Cerberus Capital Management was announced, many were concerned about how Cerberus, a Wall Street private equity firm with no experience running a hospital, would manage the state’s second-largest hospital network. Read more »

Harvard Pilgrim Drops a Medicare Plan, NOT Due To Health Reform

There was lots of national attention on Harvard Pilgrim's announcement last week that it was dropping its Medicare Advantage plan. As noted by Maggie Mahar on the Century Foundation's blog, the anti-Obama crowd leapt up to declare this as another sign of the evil of "Obamacare." Here are some of the articles Mahar found: Read more »

What Will Happen if Cerberus’s Gamble Goes Bust?

Last Sunday's Boston Globe lead editorial echoes many of the concerns of consumers across the Commonwealth who are questioning the proposed sale of the Caritas Christi hospital chain to the Wall Street private equity firm Cerberus. While acknowledging that the proposal “sounds good” and would bring capital and jobs to the state, The Globe raises a number of questions that need to be answered before the state moves ahead with the largest conversion of a non-profit hospital chain to a for-profit business in the state’s history. Read more »

Per ACA, NAIC OKs MLR. Next, MA?

Apparently, it's in the blogger code to preface all discussion on the formerly-arcane issue of health insurers' "medical loss ratio" (MLR) with a comment on the term. It does always strike me as odd that, from an insurer's accounting point of view, paying for medical care for the members is considered a loss. Isn't that what they're there for? Read more »

Caritas and Cerberus: The Train has left the Station – Looking to DPH and AG to Protect Communities and Consumers

The proposed conversion of the Caritas Christi Hospital network from a non-profit to a for-profit owned by the Wall Street public equity firm Cerberus appears to be on the fast track. Health Care For All and residents in the hospitals’ host communities are looking to the Department of Public Health and Attorney General Martha Coakley to slow down the train and do their due diligence on this project before they give it the OK. In comments submitted today to the DPH’s Public Health Council, Health Care For All requested that conditions be put on the sale to reduce the risk that comes with... Read more »

Small Group Insurance Market Gets Informed

Just in time for the end of the Legislative Session debate, DOI has released three reports dealing with the small-group health insurance market and exploring possible solutions to the unsustainable premium rates currently suffered by the market. All of the reports are available at www.mass.gov/doi. Read more »

New Outpatient Measures on Website

Hospitalcompare, a website created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with data on quality of care provided to Medicare patients in hospitals across the U.S., recently added some new measures looking at the quality of outpatient care. Learn more in this Globe story. The new measures include looking at the use of imaging, both looking at potential cases of overuse (when an MRI is ordered for low back pain before trying physical therapy or other measures) and cases when imaging is used appropriately (follow-up for women whose mammograms indicate the need for further... Read more »


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