Lahey + Beth Israel: Is bigger better?

 

Even with all the uncertainty surrounding health care and the Affordable Care Act, Lahey Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center are convinced bigger is better.

The two hospital systems, who have flirted several times in the past, announced on Monday that they intend to fully integrate their operations. Many details remain to be worked out before the deal is submitted to regulators for approval, but some of the key decisions have already been made.

Kevin Tabb, the CEO of Beth Israel, will run the combined system and Howard Grant, the head of Lahey, will step aside. Ann-Ellen Hornidge, the chair of Lahey (and chair of MassINC, the publisher of CommonWealth), will become chair of the combined hospital system. No word on whether the combined system will have a new name.

The combined system will bring together Beth Israel’s hospitals in Boston, Milton, Needham, and Plymouth with Lahey’s hospitals in Burlington, Beverly, Gloucester, and Winchester. The two hospital networks employ a total of nearly 29,000 workers and generate $4.5 billion in revenue and would become the state’s second-largest hospital system if the marriage is consummated.

The truth is no one knows whether bigger is truly better, whether size will help contain or drive up costs. But the match gives the two hospital systems a better chance of playing defense against the much larger Partners HealthCare system, which operates 10 Massachusetts hospitals and has $12 billion in revenues. Partners itself recently announced plans to acquire the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Even more important, the marriage of Lahey and Beth Israel has the potential to offer patients a much broader health care network, which is important in an environment where providers are being asked to provide care within set budgets.

Lahey has demonstrated a willingness to use its size wisely by shifting care to lower-cost settings when appropriate. For example, in 2014 Lahey acquired Winchester Hospital. Since then, discharges from Winchester, a lower-cost community hospital, have gone up, while falling slightly at Lahey, a more expensive teaching hospital. “Directionally, this is exactly what we want to see,” said David Seltz at a meeting of the Health Policy Commission earlier this month. Seltz is executive director of the commission, one of the regulatory agencies that will be tasked with reviewing the proposed merger.

–BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

State Rep. Randy Hunt of Sandwich will no longer allow political posts on his Facebook page, saying the conversations have become too vitriolic and personal. (Cape Cod Times)

A hotline set up by Attorney General Maura Healey  to report hate acts after the presidential election has received almost as many calls from Donald Trump supporters as Hillary Clinton backers. (Boston Herald)

Gov. Charlie Baker is walking a fine line as he tries to show his independence from Trump but has resisted joining the protests that have blasted the new president on the two weekend’s of young administration. (Boston Globe)

Sen. Michael Moore of Millbury files legislation to legalize silencers, saying the noise suppression devices would protect the hearing of hunters and other gun enthusiasts. Massachusetts is one of nine states that bans silencers. (Salem News)

Baker’s budget proposal for local tourism promotion is not going over well with local councils. (MassLive)

Lowell Sun columnist Peter Lucas blasts the legislative pay raise and its chief architects, Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, whom Lucas likens to Cheech and Chong.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A jury found on behalf of a plaintiff against the city of Brockton in a discrimination suit that claimed he was the victim of racial discrimination in hiring at the Department of Public Works for a job that went to a lesser qualified white man. (The Enterprise)

Hopkinton Town Meeting voters rejected a proposal to make the Town Clerk position an appointed post rather than elected. (MetroWest Daily News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama administration holdover, after she refused to defend his immigration ban. Former president Barack Obama issued a statement condemning the ban and praising those protesting it.  (New York Times) A Herald editorial slams the slapdash, poorly planned executive action. A Globe editorial says criticism from Republicans like Sen. John McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham is good, but Congress must act to overturn the visa ban.

Attorney General Maura Healey is poised to make Massachusetts one of the first states to join a federal lawsuit challenging the new immigration order. (Boston Globe)

Trump’s immigration order is very personal for US Rep. Seth Moulton. (Eagle-Tribune) Joan Vennochi lauds Moulton for the strong stand he taking against Trump and sees him as a future Democratic leader. (Boston Globe)

The self-proclaimed voter fraud expert who President Trump is counting on to prove there were millions of illegal voters in the election was himself registered in three states simultaneously at the time of the election. (Associated Press)

The Boy Scouts of America is opening its ranks to transgender youths. (Associated Press)

Tennessee’s Republican governor, Bill Haslam, is calling for an increase in the state gasoline tax. (Governing)

ELECTIONS

Jay Gonzalez, who served as state budget chief under Gov. Deval Patrick, jumps into the 2018 Democratic contest for governor, saying Gov. Charlie Baker has been a cautious leader who is too content with the status quo. (CommonWealth)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The CEOs of eight top companies — including President Trump’s direct line to the masses, Twitter — issued statements condemning the immigration ban and its effect on global businesses. (U.S. News & World Report)

The tech sector is worried about a Trump administration crackdown on H1-B visas, which allow skilled foreign nationals to work in the US. (Boston Globe)

Trump issued an executive order calling for the elimination of two federal business regulations for every one that is issued. (U.S. News & World Report)

EDUCATION

Betty DeVos, the controversial nominee for education secretary, is a chief investor in a questionable brain performance center that makes unproven claims on treating neuro-disorders such as autism and ADHD. (New York Times)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

USA Football, which oversees the sport’s amateur leagues, is making drastic changes in its youth football rules to make it more like flag football instead of tackle to reduce the risks of concussions. (New York Times)

A jury ruled against a Westwood man who claimed his quadriplegia resulted from his surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital concurrently handling two spinal operations. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

During a discussion of how to evaluate pilot project proposals, it became clear that the members of the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board are very wary about expanding service options at a time when core services are fragile. (CommonWealth)

Residents, business owners, and mayoral challenger Tito Jackson blast a planned state-funded helipad in South Boston that was agreed to as part of the incentive package to woo General Electric, saying it would be disruptive to the neighborhood and questioning why executives can’t make the five minute drive through the Ted Williams Tunnel to Logan Airport. (Boston Herald)

Despite high scores on cleanliness surveys, one of the T’s private cleaning contractors may get the boot in part because of its treatment of unionized workers. (CommonWealth)

The T’s means-tested fare experiment at The Ride fails to catch on and is abandoned. (CommonWealth)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Dr. Warren Ferguson, director the Health and Criminal Justice Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, touts efforts underway by corrections officials in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut to develop comprehensive approaches to addiction treatment for inmates. (CommonWealth)