The Health Policy Commission board is expected to vote Wednesday on the preliminary Cost & Market Impact Review (CMIR) relating to the merger that includes CareGroup, Lahey Health System, Seacoast Regional Health Systems, the Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization (BIDCO), and Mount Auburn Cambridge Independent Practice Association (MACIPA).
Under a CMIR process, HPC staff performs a detailed investigation to determine how a proposed merger will affect healthcare costs, access, healthcare quality, and how the market functions. The HPC doesn’t have the authority to stop a proposed merger but if it finds a transaction would be detrimental to the state’s overall healthcare system it can refer its report to the Attorney General’s office, which does have the power to approve or reject a merger.
Last week, Attorney General Maura Healey wrote the HPC to share “some of our current thoughts on how, irrespective of potential positive effects on the health care system, the merger of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Lahey Health System and others, as currently proposed, might increase costs and impact access to health care in Massachusetts.”
Healey said that post-merger, the remaining independent hospitals in the state, who already receive lower reimbursement from insurers and who see large percentages of patients in public health programs (MassHealth and Medicare), could see more of their patients siphoned off into the larger system, thereby exacerbating their financial problems.
“An important aspect of how we evaluate these potential impacts is how the parties to the BI-Lahey transaction intend to operate the system going forward,” Healey wrote, adding, “We will be following up with the parties with the hope of gaining insight into that question.”
The BID system, Lahey, and others involved in the transaction have said that coordinating care between them would benefit access and lower costs.