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The Massachusetts Hospital Landscape: Fast, Furious Consolidation

By Fran Cronin
CommonHealth Intern

Harvard health policy professor Robert Blendon recently spoke about looming changes in the hospital landscape here.

“There is a chance that you could arrive [in Massachusetts] 10 years from now and there are [only] three organizations to negotiate with,” Blendon told Kaiser Health News. “And every physician and hospital is affiliated with one of the three. There are mergers, consolidations, groups merging with larger groups, so when negotiations come, there are going to be very large players, even larger than the systems that most people envision.”

There is, Blendon added, “this very visible sign of concentration among providers, which they argue will lead to less expensive care, but economists argue will lead to monopoly.”

Those signs of concentration are coming almost weekly: Hospitals bought, hospitals merged, hospitals declaring bankruptcy. So this seems like a good moment to step back and review all the recent action in a single roundup. If we’ve missed anything, please let us know.

The Massachusetts Hospital Association has been tracking industry activity since the 1980‘s. The list below includes MHA reporting and other sources, and it demonstrates that the rate of hospital realignment in Massachusetts is speeding up.

The Latest Action

July 2011: Lahey Clinic of Burlington announced it will merge with Northeast Health System and form the Lahey Health System

July 2011: Saints Medical Center of Lowell announced it will be bought by Steward Health Care System, LLC

July 2011: Quincy Medical Center filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced it will be acquired by Steward Health Care System, LLC

June 2011: Northern Berkshire Healthcare filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection

May 2011: Morton Hospital of Taunton announced it will be bought by Steward Health Care System, LLC Continue reading