If Partners HealthCare System swallows up three more hospitals and hundreds more doctors, it will forever change the health care landscape in Massachusetts. The antitrust settlement that Attorney General Martha Coakley reached with Partners last week should not be the last word on the issue.
What Coakley calls a “final resolution” was filed last week in Suffolk Superior Court. In exchange for capping price increases at the rate of inflation, the deal allows the state’s dominant health care network to acquire three hospitals, including South Shore in Weymouth. A team of rival hospital systems, doctors’ groups, and business leaders is trying to make the settlement less final by seeking, at a minimum, a 45-day public comment period and subsequent hearing.