Lifespan has launched a sleek website criticizing the proposed deal and laying out arguments against it.
Among its arguments is that the acquisition would lead to higher costs, fewer jobs and a loss of local control over healthcare decisions.
In a joint statement, Care New England and Brigham & Women’s Hospital -- the member of Partners Healthcare that would acquire the Rhode Island provider -- rebuffed those arguments.
“The acquisition by Brigham Health would further CNE’s recent financial turnaround and provide much-needed financial stability,” the companies' CEOs said. “We’re exploring the potential for clinical expansion, including the development of new, lower-cost, community-based ambulatory care centers, which could create more clinical jobs and lead to the recruitment of specialty physicians offering an expanded array of clinical services in Rhode Island.”
Lifespan’s campaign marks its most full-throated criticism of the proposed deal to date.
“Access, quality, and cost of health care for the people of Rhode Island will be relinquished to executives who know little about Rhode Islanders and the critical role of health care in our state,” the website states.
If it is approved, the acquisition would have the potential to eat into Lifespan’s bottom line. Ken Kaufman, a consultant for healthcare firms at Kaufman Hall, says Lifespan is probably worried about its market share.
“It’s not like you’re in Texas,” Kaufman said. “There’s only a certain number of patients in Rhode Island, and as some of those patients go to Partners, that means there’s less patients to go to Lifespan.”
An independent review commissioned by Rhode Island’s Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner found that if approved the deal would put upward pressure on healthcare costs. (In the report’s words, it would “adversely impact the affordability of Rhode Island commercial health insurance premiums in the immediate term.”) The report says that Partners would likely find revenue by increasing referrals from Care New England hospitals to Boston, where Rhode Island’s tightly-regulated reimbursement rates wouldn’t apply. It also projects that Partners will use its brand -- what the report calls “a reputation for high quality care” -- to attract new patients to Care New England.
Care New England CEO James Fanale said earlier this month that he doesn’t see how prices to consumers could increase, given OHIC’s ability to regulate premiums and reimbursement rates.
As for job losses, both Care New England and Partners have acknowledged in interviews with The Public's Radio that redundant non-medical jobs -- in administration, marketing and so on -- might be consolidated if the deal goes through.
Lifespan pointed to a clause in a recently released filing that said Partners “has made no specific capital commitments to CNE” and instead will review proposed renovations on a case-by-case basis. In its statement today, Care New England and Partners said that they're exploring "the development of new, lower-cost, community-based ambulatory care centers" in Rhode Island.
Once the deal becomes public, Rhode Island regulators will have 90 days to make a decision on whether or not it goes forward.