HEAT ALERT

Extreme heat settles in Connecticut. Heat advisory issued for parts of Connecticut through Thursday

Connecticut lawmaker looks to reign in hospital mergers

Earlier this month, YNHH signed an agreement to take over Waterbury, Manchester Memorial and Rockville General, along with Prospect CT Medical Foundation and Visiting Nurse and Health Services of CT. Combined, the hospitals include 708 certified beds.

John Craven

Oct 21, 2022, 9:18 PM

Updated 605 days ago

Share:

One key state lawmaker wants to make hospital mergers more difficult, following news that Yale New Haven Health is buying Waterbury Hospital and two others.
Earlier this month, YNHH signed an agreement to take over Waterbury, Manchester Memorial and Rockville General, along with Prospect CT Medical Foundation and Visiting Nurse and Health Services of CT. Combined, the hospitals include 708 certified beds.
A Yale New Haven spokesperson said the merger means more efficient and cost-effective care for patients.
"You look at our track record with places like Lawrence and Memorial in New London and the integration of the hospital St. Raphael in New Haven, we've been able to demonstrate time and time again that this type of affiliation and integration really does benefit the patients at the end of the day,” said Vin Petrini, YNHH’s chief policy officer.
Petrini said no layoffs are expected.

The takeover is the latest in a wave of hospital mergers. Across Connecticut, just three health care systems will own 19 hospitals if state regulators approve the YNNH buyout:
  • Yale New Haven Health: Eight hospitals
  • Hartford HealthCare: Seven hospitals
  • Nuvance Health: Four hospitals
Critics say bigger isn’t necessarily better. Frank Reece, of Bridgeport, is one of them.

"I had a kidney transplant three years ago,” he said.

Reece actually worked at St. Vincent's Hospital for decades. But since Hartford HealthCare took over, he has to travel farther to see a doctor.

"A lot of my doctors -- some of the doctors are, like, out of network,” he said.
Hospital mergers must obtain a Certificate of Need from the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy. State Sen. Matt Lesser (D-Middletown), co-chair of the General Assembly’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee, wants to overhaul the approval process.
"We're also looking at limiting the power of hospital chains to leverage their monopoly power just to raise prices that hurt consumers,” Lesser said. "Health care monopolies lead to higher prices and ultimately less choice for consumers.”
The National Bureau of Economic Research found "monopoly hospitals" charge "12 percent more,” and when a hospital was bought out, prices "increased ... over six percent." Another study  published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded mergers led to "modestly worse patient experiences."
Health systems blame high costs on Medicare and Medicaid patients, but Connecticut's top hospital executives earned more than $10 million in 2020.
Frank Reece isn't sold.
"I think patients have fewer options,” he said.  "I don't think bigger is making things better."
OHS still must approve the Yale New Haven Health merger, and it can add stipulations like price caps. YNHH hopes to complete the takeover by June 2023.


More from News 12