Massachusetts consumers and taxpayers will save over one billion dollars of healthcare costs over the next seven years as a result of price caps established in response to action by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). The cost savings are based on a report by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, a state research agency established by a law championed by GBIO in 2012.
Beth Israel and Lahey Health Systems and a combination of 13 hospitals have been attempting to merge into a single healthcare system since the beginning of 2017. By forming the second largest healthcare system in Massachusetts, BILH believes it will be better able to compete against Partners Healthcare, the dominant healthcare system in Massachusetts. GBIO has been fighting for consumers and taxpayers to ensure that the merger would not cause a dramatic increase in costs. When the Health Policy Commission predicted that the merger would drive up healthcare costs by as much as $230 million dollars per year, GBIO challenged Attorney General Maura Healey and other state agencies to protect consumers from this outrageous increase in cost.
At a 1400-person action, held on October 22nd at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, GBIO leaders called on Attorney General Maura Healey to fight for conditions “with teeth” in the proposed merger, to protect consumers from increasing costs and declining access, particularly for low income and communities of color.
On November 29th, she announced an unprecedented seven-year price cap to ensure that Beth Israel Lahey Health does not take advantage of its market power to increase its prices. The agreement between Attorney General Healy and BILH also addressed other GBIO demands, including improved access for the Massachusetts Medicaid population and $72 million in support of lower-cost settings for healthcare.
In an interview with WBUR radio, Bonny Gilbert, co-chair of the GBIO healthcare action team, said, "We would like to see this kind of stronger language at least be the beginnings of more constraints on Partners and some of the other health care providers." And, says Gilbert, the caps must not be allowed to expire for BILH.
WCVB Channel 5 highlighted GBIO’s involvement in this merger.