REGULATE EXPANSION OF HOSPITALS

By Bob Katzen

The House 158-1, approved and sent to the Senate a bill that supporters say will promote a more balanced health care market by strengthening the regulatory processes for health care expansions. The measure requires a rigorous review to ensure that when large hospital systems expand, they are not infringing on community hospital markets and raising health care costs for patients.

“The legislation … continues the House’s commitment to health care as demonstrated in Massachusetts’ health care reform law of 2006 and of the landmark cost containment law of 2012,” said Rep. John Lawn (D-Watertown), the House Chair of the Committee on Health Care Financing. “Community hospitals operate on thin margins and with the constant possibility of closure. The bill passed by the House … limits unchecked growth of hospital chains, better suiting community hospitals to survive and ensuring continued competition in the health care market.”

“The House took a major step in working to guarantee that every Massachusetts resident has access to quality, affordable health care by passing legislation that will protect community hospitals,” said Speaker of the House Ron Mariano (D-Quincy). “Community hospitals offer high-quality care to the most vulnerable patient populations at affordable rates. Our efforts to control health care cost growth depends on their continued existence.”

“Other states are beginning to roll back determination of need laws, because they negatively impact healthcare,” said Rep. Nick Boldyga (R-Southwick), the lone vote against the bill. “But here we are doing just the opposite. Protectionist policies like this one restrict competition, stifle innovation and lower the quality of healthcare a patient receives all while ensuring costs remain high. We need more competition when it comes to healthcare, not less.”

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