DiPalma Calls for Strengthening of Hospital Conversion Act Due to Potential Care New England-Partner

Friday, March 09, 2018

 

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Senator DiPalma working to improve the HCA

Rhode Island Senator Louis DiPalma joined GoLocal News Editor Kate Nagle on GoLocal LIVE at the State House on his legislation to strengthen the Hospital Conversion Act (HCA) -- as lawmakers raise questions regarding patient and job migration and decreased access to services with a potential Partners HealthCare acquisition of Care New England (CNE).

Now mega-Boston hospital group Partners is also negotiating with Lifespan.

DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) is introducing the legislation along with Rep. Kenneth Marshall (D-Dist. 68, Bristol, Warren) regarding the HCA, specifically over concerns that the current HCA is not strong enough to support a proper review of entities proposing acquisitions from adjacent states.
 “We have never seen a proposal where one of Rhode Island’s largest hospital systems would be acquired by a hospital network that is located in a state adjacent to Rhode Island. The potential for patients, jobs, and services to migrate to Massachusetts is a serious concern,” said DiPalma. “Smaller community hospitals have been acquired by hospitals as far away as California, but in those cases, there was no risk of patients leaving the state to seek hospital services."

The legislation received strong support from one of Rhode Island's largest healthcare groups -- CharterCARE.

“It is good public policy for the House and Senate to raise concerns about the current requirements of Rhode Island’s Hospital Conversion Act that do not entertain the impacts of a hospital system just up the street from acquiring one of the largest employers and healthcare providers in Rhode Island," said the company in a statement.

"Since Care New England’s proposed acquisition by Partners was announced, access to healthcare has been lessened and a loss of healthcare jobs in Rhode Island has already occurred. The closure of Memorial Hospital and more recently the announced closure of CNE’s Diamond Hill Road medical facility in Woonsocket, where women received obstetrics and gynecology services, are proof points of concern regarding the future of hospital care in Rhode Island,” added CharterCARE.

"This proposal presents a unique risk to Rhode Island’s hospitals and healthcare system. We must ensure our hospital conversion laws consider this potential and what it will mean for access to high-quality hospital care in Rhode Island," said DiPalma. 
 

 

Related Slideshow: 7 Implications and Unintended Consequences of a Care New England and Partners Merger

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Providence does not usually do well in mergers

Remember Providence Gas, Fleet Bank, and Narragansett Electric?

Big employers, deep community involvement, and significant charitable donors — all were consumed and in each case, the number of employees left in Rhode Island by the succeeding company is a fraction of the once independent venture.

To the victor goes the spoils.

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As if the Boston economy isn't good enough, and the Providence economy couldn't be more stagnant

The cityscape of Boston is littered with cranes. Boston Business Journal maps the construction projects utilizing cranes in Boston (see image) and the number of projects is staggering. 

In Providence, there few construction projects and not a crane to be seen. The last thing Providence needs is for another one of its largest employers to be merged into a Boston mega-organization. The likelihood is that jobs will be lost or consolidated to Boston - basic functions like purchasing, accounting, etc. will be lost. 

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Harvard beats Brown in Ivy League match-up

Harvard Medical School is ranked as the #1 research-based institution in America by U.S. News and World Report.

Partners Healthcare’s academic partner is Harvard.

In contrast, Care New England’s academic affiliation is with the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Brown’s best ranking is 21st for primary care - and is ranked for research way back at #31.

One of the biggest losers in the merger could be Brown's medical school.

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Care New England is RI’s 2nd largest employer, so what will It be in 2 Years?

According to the RI Department of Labor and Training, Care New England is Rhode Island’s second largest employer.

Lifespan is the largest: 12,050

Care New England: 8,500

CVS: 7,800

Cities like "Meds and Eds" (the medical and educational business segments), but Providence and all of Rhode Island is likely to lose high paid, highly educated jobs as a result of this deal.

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Care New England Continues to Struggle

Despite hopes that closing Memorial Hospital would solve the financially beleaguered Care New England's economic woes, new financial documents unveil that CNE continues to struggle.

Additionally, the pursuer - Partners HealthCare - is also making cuts. The Boston Globe unveiled the Partners is cutting about 100 of the company’s tech workers that their jobs were being outsourced to India to cut costs.

“Many of the employees have worked for Partners for several years, or even decades, and are struggling with the company’s decision. Almost all are coders — people who scour patients’ medical records to pinpoint billable services — and earn upward of $40 an hour. Coders in India earn a fraction of that amount, making overseas coding an attractive way for hospitals to cut costs,” wrote the Boston Globe.

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Can the unions battle?

Within hours of GoLocal breaking the news of the merger, the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) President Linda McDonald, RN, released the following statement today:

"This proposed merger has the ability to impact thousands of jobs and the quality of care in Rhode Island and should be thoroughly scrutinized. Like most Rhode Islanders, we only recently learned of this proposal but expect Care New England and Partners HealthCare to be transparent in their process and begin a conversation with our union about the effect any deal would have on our members and our patients.  

Memorial Hospital provides critical care to scores of Blackstone Valley residents every year and preserving its status as a fully-functioning community hospital will be among our top priorities as this process continues to unfold. 
The onus is now on Care New England, Partners HealthCare and Prime Healthcare Services to make the details of this proposal public and to do it quickly so that workers, patients and state regulators may begin asking the appropriate questions."

The nurses represents nearly 1,400 registered nurses, CNAs, ER techs, surgical techs, orderlies, endo techs, environmental employees and ancillary staff at Kent and Memorial hospitals.  But, will they have any impact on the decisions?
 

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Speaking of Lifespan - will they be forced to merge with a Boston partner?

Lifespan is having its financial challenges too. While Care New England lost $53 million last year, Lifespan's losses were $40 million. The Lifespan losses were smaller proportionately to the healthcare group's overall budget and it does not have the cash crunch that Care New England was battling.

In February, Lifespan announced it had has entered into another Boston Hospital agreement. This agreement with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a long term agreement with the goal of advancing cancer treatment and research. Lifespan previously entered into an agreement with New England Medical Center and that deal led to years of protracted litigation to unwind. Lifespan also ran into a legal battle with Tufts Medical Center.

Will Partners' potential arrival in the market force Lifespan to affiliate?

 
 

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