Executives at Partners HealthCare and its largest hospitals are so concerned about a big Massachusetts health care bill that they’re asking employees to lobby against some of the legislation’s provisions.
Partners executives sent e-mails to most of the organization’s 73,000 employees Friday, warning about possible ramifications of the bill, now making its way through the Senate.
The legislation aims to contain medical costs in part by setting a benchmark for hospital spending. If the hospital industry blows past the benchmark, the bill would penalize three hospitals where commercial spending is highest. Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General hospitals — both owned by Partners, the largest health system in the state — are expected to be among those penalized. It’s still unclear which hospital would be the third to be penalized.
“Our Academic Medical Centers could be subjected to massive financial penalties even if they meet or come in under that benchmark,” Partners executives said in a memo to employees. “That provision could take tens — even hundreds — of millions of dollars from our hospitals. It would have a profound impact on all Partners institutions and our ability to care for our patients.”
The memo adds that hospital leaders will “provide opportunities for employees to voluntarily contact their legislators.”
The message went to employees at Mass. General, Brigham and Women’s, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, North Shore Medical Center, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network, McLean Hospital, and Partners corporate headquarters.
It was signed by top executives, including Brigham’s president, Dr. Elizabeth G. Nabel, Mass. General’s president, Dr. Peter L. Slavin, and Partners’ chief executive, Dr. David Torchiana.
Partners spokesman Rich Copp said it’s rare but not unprecedented for the organization to send such messages to employees. “On other topics, [National Institutes of Health] funding, for example, we have asked employees to consider engaging in the process,” he said.
Senators plan to debate their health care bill Wednesday and Thursday. The measure needs approval from the House and the governor before it can become law.
The bill includes numerous provisions intended to control costs and improve patient outcomes. Partners officials said they support some aspects of the legislation, including expanded use of telemedicine and measures designed to curb prescription drug costs.