Lots of amazing research and care happens at Partners Healthcare, and we pay a bonus for it.
Or, as Boston Globe writer Priyanka Dayal McCluskey puts it “Partners has long been criticized for using its power in the health care market to extract higher payments from insurers and driving up health care costs.”
But, Partners faces scrutiny from the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, a panel that includes some health care heavyweights and a team of data analysts who are tracking cost and utilization in the state.
Partners HealthCare’s expansion plans suffered a setback Wednesday after a state watchdog agency warned that health care costs for consumers would rise significantly if Partners is allowed to acquire the specialty hospital Massachusetts Eye and Ear.
The Health Policy Commission said Partners, the state’s largest health care network, is likely to seek higher reimbursements for care by Mass. Eye and Ear and its doctors if the deal goes through. Because Partners is already a high-priced network, the deal would increase health care spending statewide by $20.8 million to $61.2 million a year, according to the commission.
“These spending increases would ultimately be borne by consumers and businesses through higher commercial premiums,” the commission said in a lengthy report.
Last year, your correspondent interviewed Brandies economist Stuart Altman, who chairs the panel, about what Massachusetts is doing to contain health costs.
First of all, it is the only state that has recognized that it should be involved in total state spending. Some other states that are closer are Vermont and Maryland. But the Massachusetts state government is really acknowledging that it has responsibility for not only what it spends on Medicaid, but that it should be concerned with total spending.