Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Meanwhile, south of the Massachusetts border

Just when I thought that Massachusetts health care environment was complicated, along comes this story from ConvergenceRI.  Richard Asinof is a tireless reporter who documents the health care comings and goings in the state.  We could use someone of his energy and depth in Massachusetts, someone who connects current events with what has happened in the past--with a healthy dose of similes and an appreciation for irony.

Look at these excerpts, for example:

Like new spring growth in the briar patch, thorny consequences of Prime Healthcare’s takeover of Landmark Medical Center have begun to emerge, less than four months after the deal was finalized that allowed the California-based, for-profit hospital system to purchase the financially troubled nonprofit community hospital.

UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company and UnitedHealthcare of New England have asked the R.I. Department of Health to remove Landmark from its network of hospitals, along with 52 physicians, 32 of which are primary care providers, who have “admitting privileges exclusively” at the hospital. 

The only commercial insurer with an ongoing participating agreement with Landmark is Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island – a legal arrangement that was part of the final purchase deal.   

There is a certain amount of irony in the current situation, given the events of two years ago, when in the summer of 2012, it was Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island that had requested to remove Landmark from its network of hospitals during its contract negotiations with Steward and Landmark, leading to an aggressive advertising campaign attacking Blue Cross by Steward and Landmark and a lawsuit against Blue Cross by the special master that was later withdrawn.

Failed mediation efforts with Blue Cross involving Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin [and leaked confidential letters between Kilmartin and Steward Health Care CEO Dr. Ralph de la Torre] led in part to the breakdown of the proposed purchase of Landmark by Steward, a for-profit hospital system based in Boston and owned by a private equity firm, Cerberus, in New York City.


Nancy Thomas said...

Having lived through the contract legal actions with BCBS, one would have hoped that the sale approval would have had wording or regulation in place to prevent this from happening. Five years and no suitor because of failed negotiations. Then, in the last moment, Prime comes in - 1st for-profit hospital ownership in the state - and it almost flies through. Where were the regulators? Considering RI's state employees have United, where does this leave them? The retirees? Five senior high rises in Woonsocket. Is it ever about the people? (In full disclosure, I served as VP of Communications at Landmark up until the time of its receivership - when there was only 90 days cash on hand of survival left - here we are, 7 years later - not much changes, but legal folks and consultants have certainly been plentiful).

Anonymous said...

Paul - My understanding is that Steward is still attempting to sue BCBS of Rhode Island for their failed attempt to purchase Landmark. The article talks of a lawsuit being withdrawn but I think they still may end up in court as Steward claims BCBS of RI not including Landmark in their network was the cause of the deal falling apart. Ralph is probably more angry that he hasn't been able to claim his strategy can be replicated in states other than Massachusetts. He had better hurry up if he wants to before he has to start closing hospitals like Carney and Quincy which are both losing tons of money.

Richard Asinof said...

in response to anonymous: For those who were not in the weeds here in Rhode Island, the lawsuit I referred to that was withdrawn was by the special master for Landmark, which alleged that Blue Cross had been responsible for its financial downfall. It was filed in the midst of the dispute with Blue Cross over the health insurer's proposed move to remove Landmark from its network of hospitals in the summer of 2012. Steward's subsequent lawsuit was filed months after Steward had withdrawn as a purchaser of Landmark.