Saturday, January 7, 2017

It's (Not) Just Business

How often do we see it?
Two large corporations merge, the CEO of the smaller corporation get a big payday and rides into the sunset.
The stockholders get a small bump in the price of their stock.
Everyone's happy.

Sometimes this is a good thing.
The CEO of a startup invests his capital and talent, develops a new idea, and is rewarded.
The acquiring corporation incorporates the new idea and improves their product.

Sometimes it's good for the CEOs and the stockholders, but not so much for consumers.
A corporation buys out a competitor, closes some locations, and now can charge whatever they wish for that cup of latte.

This week, Bruce Cummings, the CEO of L&M hospital, announced his retirement. He sighted the work he did shepherding in the merger of his community hospital and Yale Healthcare.
Now he's gone.
The question is, what are we left with in his wake?
Yale now has control of Healthcare along the entire coast of Connecticut.
Has Yale acquired some new ideas to incorporate on how to perform surgeries, or have they just positioned themselves better to demand what they want for the cost of doing those surgeries?

Not long ago, Hartford Healthcare acquired two other Eastern Connecticut community hospitals and Prospect Healthcare acquired yet two more.
The CEO of Manchester and Rockville Hospitals, now part of Prospect Healthcare, is now retired.
The CEO of Backus and Windham Hospitals, now part of Hartford Healthcare, is now a top executive of Hartford Healthcare.

Across this country, the mergers of big Hospital Corporations, Pharmaceutical Corporations, and Insurance Corporations is accelerating at breakneck speed in an "arms race" for the incredible amount of money that we spend on healthcare.

It would be one thing if these were coffee shops, and the concern was a higher priced Latte.
But they are not.
The concern is a closing of services at community hospitals and a decrease in competition has been shown to lead to increased costs of medical care.

Right now in Connecticut, the Governor's Certificate of Need Task Force, the very process that regulates such mergers, is nearing it's final recommendations.
They have an historic opportunity to deliver a set of recommendations that can protect the cost, access and quality of the healthcare of the citizens of Connecticut.
I pray they will.

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