Thursday, September 04, 2014

Cart. Horse. Whatever.

Priyanka Dayal McCluskey at the Boston Globe writes:

Attorney General Martha Coakley is renegotiating a controversial settlement with Partners HealthCare after a state commission said Wednesday that a proposed takeover of two North Shore hospitals would raise costs and increase Partners’ already formidable market power.

I'm trying to figure out how the Attorney General, who has documented for years that the market power of Partners has been a massive force for health care cost and price increases in the region, could have proceeded in the first place with her "antitrust" deal that would have allowed them to take over these additional hospitals.  And, if she had any doubts, why would she have negotiated the deal before the state commission finished its review?

Instead, notes the story:

Coakley had structured the deal, announced in May, so that it could be revised based on findings of the Health Policy Commission, a watchdog agency.

My readers may not know that I spend a great portion of my life teaching and advising on negotiation.  Let's just say that the negotiation technique employed by the AG in this case is one that many people would find highly unusual.

Some cart before some horse just went down the road here in Massachusetts.  It would really be better if the the Attorney General withdrew from this process and let her successor start over again in January.


nonlocal MD said...

I agree with you entirely; it is unseemly to nail this down and then have her successor, coming very soon, have to deal with it. Smacks of behind the scenes dealing.
But I thought the policy commission had said what it said long ago; what was different about Wednesday's pronouncement? I smell a last minute appeasement of any dissatisfied voters out there; another reason she should withdraw.

Paul Levy said...

The HPC had previously opined on the merger with the South Shore Hospital. This report is about the ones to the north.

nonlocal MD said...

Yes, and it seems to be that this one is the only part she 'can' renegotiate. Perhaps the good stuff Partners wanted is all in the first part that she 'cannot' renegotiate, with this 2nd part just being window dressing?

Forgive my cynicism, on the day that the people of VA decided another (former) governor really was corrupt, despite his insistence this was just business as usual.