By Max Friedman
In the past few years, more independent hospitals in Connecticut have joined together under larger health systems. To achieve a better understanding of what this means for our state, a group of labor and advocacy organizations released a report discussing the effects of hospital consolidation and are urging state regulators to consider the broad impacts of these mergers on patients, Arielle Levin Becker of the Connecticut Mirror reports.
While the focus of the report is on the proposed affiliation of Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London with Yale-New Haven, the impacts can be generalized across the state.
The current situation in Connecticut is that Hartford Healthcare controls many hospitals in central and eastern Connecticut, Yale-New Haven is dominant along the coastline, and the Western Connecticut Health Network runs along the New York border. Several hospitals are also in the process of consolidating with national, for-profit systems.
Proponents of consolidation argue that this saves smaller hospitals by allowing them to benefit from the services that larger systems can provide. This notion can be attractive to smaller hospitals during a time of lower reimbursement rates from the state and federal governments. However, recent actions by Hartford Healthcare at Windham Hospital to cut services have prompted advocates to be more wary of this trend.
Hopefully this report will spur discussion of what state policymakers can do to ensure that patients are protected in this changing environment.