The state Health Policy Commission voted Wednesday to scrutinize the growth plans of a large hospital network affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
The network, called Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization, or BIDCO, is seeking affiliations with New England Baptist Hospital of Boston and MetroWest Medical Center of Framingham. BIDCO already includes seven hospitals and is the second-largest health care provider network in Massachusetts, with 11 percent of hospital discharges, the commission said.
The watchdog agency said BIDCO's further growth has the potential to raise spending through higher insurance rates and hospital prices, and could bolster BIDCO's market power. These issues will be explored in the commission's analysis, which will continue for the next several months.
The hospitals that make up BIDCO are not all owned by the same company, but they contract with insurers together. BIDCO, New England Baptist, and MetroWest, have said that their proposed affiliations would help improve coordination of patient care while controlling costs.
This the Health Policy Commission's first such review since it objected last year to Partners HealthCare's proposed acquisitions of two hospital systems. Those reports ultimately contributed to Partners, the state's largest and priciest health system, dropping one deal and putting the other on hold.
BIDCO officials say the network's expansion would improve quality and efficiency, resulting in lower costs.