Partners HealthCare began a new partnership with physician group Harbor Medical Associates on the South Shore on Wednesday.

The Brigham and Women’s Physicians Organization has a long-standing, close clinical relationship with Harbor Medical Associates. By merging, we will be able to offer more coordinated care for our mutual patients and their families that will improve health outcomes and help bend the cost curve.

Over the past three years, Partners has reduced its community physician cohort by more than 500 doctors in order to begin right-sizing our network and to ensure that our geographic coverage is consistent with our population management strategy. As a result, Harbor’s 70 physicians represent a return of about 3 percent more physicians to our community network, which is already 20 percent smaller than in 2012.

In response to some of the cost concerns raised by the Health Policy Commission (HPC) and concerns expressed by the Attorney General, we have informed the three largest Massachusetts insurers that we will not request increases for Harbor above inflation for five years after they become part of our contracts in 2016. We share the concerns about rising health care costs expressed by the Attorney General and HPC, which is why we voluntarily reopened our commercial contracts to take on risk and reduce our fees several years ago and have received increases equal to inflation since.

Over the last few years, we have also made a major commitment to our population strategy, which has led to successful cost reduction through our participation in the federal government’s Pioneer Accountable Care Organization, and a cost growth trend in our commercial contracts that has been below the state benchmarks.

We believe that this partnership with Harbor will allow us to move forward on our vision for patient care while being sensitive to any cost concerns held by policymakers, regulators and – most importantly – our patients.

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