On October 23rd, the Massachusetts State Senate held a hearing at the State House to weigh the pros and cons of a new health care bill it is considering. A major component of the proposal would set a new target for hospital spending. If the entire hospital industry in Massachusetts fails to meet the new spending target, the Senate proposal would levy financial penalties on just three hospitals—and of those, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital would pay the lion's share of the penalty. Our hospitals would pay this penalty regardless of how well they performed in terms of controlling costs and achieving the benchmark.

"In my mind, this represents an unfair legislative attack on the future of Mass General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals," Dr. Peter Slavin, president of Massachusetts General Hospital, told the packed hearing room at the State House.

As reported by the Boston Globe, Dr. Betsy Nabel, president of Brigham and Women's Hospital, said the financial penalties contained within the Senate proposal "would impose direct damage" on the Brigham’s mission, including its ability to serve poor patients through the state's Medicaid program, a population on which the hospitals already lose money.

Additionally, the Senate proposal sets this new cost benchmark on benchmarks previously established in Massachusetts law, creates a new readmissions reduction benchmark on top of existing federal readmission standards and creates a brand new regulatory structure in what is already the most highly regulated industry in the Commonwealth.

To read complete coverage of Dr. Nabel and Dr. Slavin's testimony click here

Photo of Dr. Betsy Nabel and Dr. Peter Slavin: David L. Ryan, The Boston Globe