Photo of Attorney General Maura Healey at GBIO Oct. 22nd 20th Anniversary action
As part of a court-filed consumer protection agreement negotiated between Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Beth Israel Lahey Health (BILH), Massachusetts consumers and taxpayers will save over one billion dollars of healthcare costs over the next seven years as a result of price caps established in response to action by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). The cost savings are based on a report by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, a state research agency established by law championed by GBIO in 2012.
Beth Israel and Lahey Health Systems and a combination of 13 hospitals have been attempting to merge into a single healthcare system since the beginning of 2017. By forming the second largest healthcare system in Massachusetts, BILH believes it will be better able to compete against Partners Healthcare, the dominant healthcare system in Massachusetts. GBIO has been fighting for consumers and taxpayers to ensure that the merger would not cause a dramatic increase in costs. When the Health Policy Commission predicted that the merger would drive up healthcare costs by as much as $230 million dollars per year, GBIO challenged Attorney General Maura Healey and other state agencies to protect consumers from this outrageous increase in cost.
At the Fall GBIO Action, held on October 22nd at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Attorney General Maura Healey engaged with over 1400 people representing 43 GBIO member institutions. GBIO leaders called for and Attorney General Healey promised to fight for conditions “with teeth” in the proposed merger, to protect consumers from increasing costs and declining access, particularly for low income and communities of color. You can see Attorney General Healey’s response to our action and our call for her to stay strong during her negotiations.
On November 29th, she announced an unprecedented seven-year price cap to ensure that Beth Israel Lahey Health does not take advantage of its market power to increase its prices. These prices are established as BILH negotiates with health insurance companies which then pass on increased costs to consumers in the forms of higher premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs.
Price caps such as these have never been negotiated as part of a healthcare market transaction in Massachusetts. In addition to the price caps, other demands of GBIO, such as improved access for the Massachusetts Medicaid population and $72 million in support of lower-cost settings for healthcare, were included as part of the agreement between Attorney General Healey and BILH.
In an interview with WBUR radio, Bonny Gilbert, co-chair of the GBIO healthcare action team, said, "We would like to see this kind of stronger language at least be the beginnings of more constraints on Partners and some of the other health care providers." And, says Gilbert, the caps must not be allowed to expire for BILH.
Additional link: WCVB Channel 5 highlighted GBIO’s involvement in this merger.