By Lynne Ide
Last week, the state Office of Health Care Access (OHCA) and Office of Attorney General (OAG) proposed conditions for approval of the sale of the nonprofit, community-based Waterbury Hospital to the national for-profit Tenet Healthcare network. Both of the state offices with oversight authority weighed in with requirements that help ensure that the Greater Waterbury community is well-served and that community-based accountability will be factored into future decision-making.
The proposed deal has been watched closely as Waterbury Hospital is the first of five potential nonprofit Connecticut hospital acquisitions by Tenet Healthcare. Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut’s president, Frances Padilla testified at the October hearing on the proposed deal.
On Monday, the Foundation submitted letters to OHCA and OAG in support of their proposed final decisions regarding the Waterbury Hospital sale. In her letters, Padilla urged that the conditions proposed by both offices are not eroded before the decision is finalized.
In addition, the Foundation urged that there be a moratorium on nonprofit hospital conversions to for-profit corporations until the state has a more complete understanding of what Connecticut needs from hospitals in the 21st century. As Padilla suggests in her letter, “While a sound set of OHCA requirements for the conversion of Waterbury Hospital, and other nonprofit conversions continuing to be addressed on a case-by-case basis, may appear to be suitable in the short-term, it may not serve the interests of Connecticut residents in the long run.”
Look for a final decision from OHCA and OAG in the coming weeks. What happens in Waterbury may be a harbinger of things to come.