For Immediate Release - November 01, 2017

Statement from HPC Executive Director David Seltz

“To address the lack of transparency in our health care system, one of the Health Policy Commission’s (HPC) core responsibilities is to publicly report on provider market changes and their potential impact on cost, quality, and patient access. This preliminary report provides an objective, analytic review of Partners HealthCare System’s planned acquisition of the state’s only eye, ear, nose, and throat specialty hospital, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and its physician organization, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Associates. It raises important questions for public consideration and discussion, especially with regard to the future affordability and accessibility of the specialty care provided by Massachusetts Eye and Ear. Notably, the proposed transaction is likely to significantly increase commercial health care spending by a projected range of $20.8 million to $61 million annually. I look forward to the parties’ response to our findings and the HPC’s final report.”

Next Steps:

Following the release of this Preliminary Report, the parties will have 30 days to respond to the HPC with written comment, including any commitments and assurances based on the findings, or to provide additional context. The HPC expects to release its Final Report at an upcoming Board meeting.

Background:

The HPC is an independent state agency governed by an 11-member Board with diverse experience in health care. The HPC's mission is to advance a more transparent, accountable, and innovative health care system. As part of its work to achieve this mission, the HPC is tasked with monitoring and reviewing material changes within the health care marketplace, including mergers, acquisitions, and new affiliations. The HPC may also engage in a more comprehensive review of particular transactions anticipated to have a significant impact on health care costs or market functioning. The result of such “cost and market impact reviews” (CMIRs) is a public report detailing the HPC’s findings. These robust, data-driven reviews detail the impact of proposed changes on costs and market functioning, on the Commonwealth’s ability to meet the benchmark, and on quality and access to care for consumers. Through this process, the HPC seeks to encourage providers and payers alike to evaluate and take steps to minimize negative impacts and enhance positive outcomes of any proposed change. While the HPC does not have the authority to block proposed transactions, in order to allow for public assessment of the findings, the transactions may not be finalized until the HPC issues its Final Report. Where appropriate, reports may identify areas for further review or monitoring, or be referred to other state agencies in support of their work on behalf of health care consumers.

In total, the HPC has conducted cost and market impact reviews of seven transactions since its inception in November 2012. The HPC has also received notices for an additional 72 transactions that did not proceed to a full cost and market impact review. All cost and market impact reviews and material change notices are posted on the HPC’s website here and here, respectively.