Massachusetts Miracle

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Senate votes to keep 72 beds at Taunton State Hospital

Charles Winokoor, Taunton Daily Gazette, May 25, 2012 Taunton - Although he was hoping to retain more than 100, state Senator Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton, says he’s appreciative that his colleagues Thursday voted unanimously to retain 72 beds at Taunton State Hospital. “I won the debate - it was 39 zip,” a slightly elated and relieved Pacheco said after the budget debate had adjourned for the day. Pacheco conceded the “ideal number” of beds would have been the 135 he floated earlier in the week. But he said after consulting with TSH staff ... he was willing to compromise and settle for 72. ... Senate

Health care will test Governor Patrick’s skills

Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe, May 25, 2012 With this state’s recovery outpacing the nation’s, Governor Patrick is riding high. Sixty-one percent of likely voters say the state is heading in the right direction, according to a new Suffolk University poll - and almost the same proportion have a favorable opinion of the governor. That shows something impressive: The state’s congenial, consensus-oriented CEO has become a successful, well-regarded governor in tough times. But though it’s no doubt a delight to be Deval these days, the governor also faces a ticklish policy problem in the weeks ahead. ... Health

Partners’ second-quarter earnings fall on one-time charge

Robert Weisman, Boston Globe, May 25, 2012 Taking a nearly $110 million write-off on an electronic health record system it will scrap, Partners HealthCare System Inc. reported Thursday that its second-quarter operating income dropped to $5.3 million from $71.2 million in the same period last year. Partners, the state’s largest hospital and physicians network, partly offset the decline through an increase in investment income. But net income fell to $132.2 million for the three months ended March 31, down 20.4 percent from $166.4 million a year earlier. ... Partners

New chief confident in Carney Hospital

Robert Weisman, Boston Globe, May 25, 2012 Since arriving in Boston from rural North Carolina in early May, the new president of financially struggling Carney Hospital in Dorchester - owned by for-profit Steward Health Care System - has had a consistent message for staffers, patients, and community residents. “What I tell them is we’re going to be a great community hospital,” said Andy Davis, 41. “The Carney is open for business. There’s been substantial investment from Steward, and there will be future investments, not only in capital improvements, but in people.” ... New

Data breach in 2010 to cost South Shore Hospital $750,000

Neal Simpson, Patriot Ledger, May 25, 2012 Weymouth - A 2010 data breach at South Shore Hospital will cost the hospital at least $750,000, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley. Under a settlement approved today in Suffolk Superior Court, the hospital will pay a $250,000 civil penalty and $225,000 into a fund for education related to the protection of personal information. The hospital has also received credit for $275,000 it says it spent on security measures following the breach. ... Data

Network Health expands coverage to Western Massachusetts

Robert Weisman, Boston Globe, May 25, 2012 Medford health insurer Network Health LLC, which provides coverage for about 200,000 low- and moderate-income state residents, will be expanding its coverage into Western Massachusetts under the Medicaid managed care plan MassHealth. The expansion, which will take Network Health statewide for the first time, was approved by the state Division of Insurance. Network Health, formerly owned by Cambridge Health Alliance, was acquired last year by Watertown-based Tufts Health Plan.

Feds OK $628M for “safety net” hospitals including Brockton, Carney

State House News Service, May 23, 2012

Boston - The federal government has approved $628 million to support new care and payment models at seven Massachusetts hospitals, including Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital, that are considered “safety net” facilities because they serve high percentages of Medicaid patients and low percentages of commercially insured patients, the Patrick administration has announced.

The seven systems are Steward Carney Hospital in Dorchester, Boston Medical Center, Cambridge Health Alliance, Holyoke Medical Center, Lawrence General Hospital, Mercy Medical Center in Springfield and Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital.

RI health director approves sale of Landmark Medical Center

Felice Freyer, Providence Journal, May 23, 2012 Providence - Health Director Michael D. Fine has approved the sale of Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket to Steward Healthcare System, a for-profit Massachusetts hospital chain. The sale now needs only the approval of Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin to meet the terms of state law. Fine accepted the recommendation of the Health Services Council, an advisory board, to permit Steward to take control of Landmark and its subsidiary, the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island. The hospital had been in receivership for four years. Fine also completed the second regulatory process required by state law ... RI

Jordan Hospital: Layoffs looming?

Hospital in talks with unions over budget reductions. Rich Harbert, Duxbury Reporter, May 17, 2012 Plymouth - Reduced reimbursements from Medicare, Medicaid and health insurers have Jordan Hospital looking to find millions in budget cuts. Hospital officials have been meeting with representatives of two employee unions to find a way to minimize the impact of those cuts on its staff. Jordan Hospital spokesman Chris Smalley said the hospital is faced with reimbursement reductions totaling $7 million and must reduce expenses accordingly. ... Jordan

Single Payer Amendment Falls Short in Senate

Matt Murphy, State House News Service, May 15, 2012

Boston - Several senators made a concerted push on Tuesday to put Massachusetts on a track toward single-payer health care, and though their plan failed it generated a level of debate on the topic unseen in recent years.

The Senate voted 15-22 against studying whether a single-payer, government model of health care could be more effective in reducing costs, but not before a bevy of Democratic lawmakers made the case that it would be a mistake to ignore a possible opportunity to make health care more affordable.

Quincy Medical Center boosts city's financial health

Lane Lambert, Patriot Ledger, May 10, 2012 Quincy - For Quincy Medical Center, you could say the city’s loss is also the city’s gain, financially speaking. When for-profit Steward Health Care bought the hospital last year, Quincy lost a tax-exempt facility that had been city-owned and then a private nonprofit since it was founded in 1890. But the sale means that starting in July, the city will add almost $2 million to its annual tax revenue. That will make the hospital one of the city’s third largest taxpayers – “a strong addition to the tax base,” chief assessor Peter Moran said. ... Quincy

Speed, extent of hospital mergers needs close watch

Patriot Ledger Editorial, May 5, 2012 A looming shift in health care continues to feed a frenzy of hospital mergers and acquisitions, raising questions about whether the debt being incurred poses a threat to patient care. The most aggressive buyer to date has been Steward Health Care System, which has bought hospitals in Quincy, Brockton, Taunton and now Stoughton, where it has agreed to acquire New England Sinai Hospital for $40 million. ... Speed

Manet Health gets $5.5 million for expansion in Quincy, Hull

Lane Lambert, Patriot Ledger, May 2, 2012 Quincy - Two new federal grants have set the stage for Manet Community Health Center to dramatically expand care for public housing residents, the elderly and other low-income patients in Quincy and Hull. Manet has been awarded $5.5 million through the federal Affordable Care Act – $5 million for extensive expansion of the main North Quincy facility, and $500,000 for more immediate renovation at the Hull site. The grants are the maximum amount a single center could get in each category. ... Manet

Steward Health Care reshaping Brockton-area hospital industry

Steve Adams, Patriot Ledger, April 30, 2012 Brockton - A wave of acquisitions is reshaping ownership of Massachusetts hospitals, and one company has emerged as the driving force behind much of this activity. Steward Health Care System, a for-profit company created in 2010, announced its latest acquisition last month of New England Sinai Hospital in Stoughton for $40 million. The pending purchase – which requires state approvals – follows Steward’s acquisition of the Caritas Christi hospital system, Quincy Medical Center, Taunton’s Morton Hospital and others in the last two years. The company now owns 10 hospitals in the state. ... Steward

Shale gas boom has benefits and risks

Lower energy costs welcomed, but harm to environment feared. Erin Ailworth, Boston Globe, April 29, 2012 A proposal to expand a major local pipeline could bring cheap, plentiful supplies of natural gas to New England from Northeast shale formations, but it also thrusts the region into a raging debate that pits economics against environment, industry against community, and sometimes neighbor against neighbor. The focus is often on a controversial technique, known as fracking, that pumps chemical-laced, pressurized water deep into the earth to unlock natural gas trapped by shale rock. The technology has helped bring jobs, businesses, and money ... Shale

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