Non-profit hospitals behaving badly?

I was surprised by this factoid. It was buried is Scott Allen’s fine Sunday story in the Globe on the fight for outpatient business in the suburbs. 

Beth Israel set up a taxpayer group in 2006 to oppose a proposed $13 million cancer center at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, in part because it would be less than 5 miles from a Beth Israel cancer center. Beth Israel later dropped its opposition in a settlement whose terms were not disclosed.

Paul Dreyer, state director of Health Care Safety and Quality, said hospitals commonly set up independent taxpayer organizations as a way to oppose other hospitals’ building plans. That’s because a grass-roots group with as few as 10 members can force a public hearing under state law.

There’s a name for this in policy circles – instead of grass roots organizations, these are astroturf orgs.

 A business tactic or a way to game the system?  I guess it depends on which side of the fight you’re on.


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