A Michigan congressman and two state lawmakers warn about negative impacts on patient care from a proposed Beaumont Health merger, Crain's Detroit Business reports.
"As our community's representatives in Washington and Lansing, we believe it is our responsibility to speak out when our constituents' ability to access affordable, quality care might be in jeopardy," according to a statement from U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, who represents Royal Oak, state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, D-Royal Oak, and state Rep. Jim Ellison, D-Royal Oak.
"During a global pandemic that has acutely impacted our region and claimed more than 7,000 Michigan lives, we call on the leadership of Beaumont to do what it is in the best interest of patients, not earnings, address the issues raised by medical staff concerning their ability to offer excellent care – and promptly reevaluate this proposed merge," the statement says.
The eight-hospital Beaumont Health system is pursuing a merger with Advocate Aurora Health, a 26-hospital system with corporate headquarters in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Beaumont's board has yet to give final approval. Experts regard the Royal Oak-based network as the better health system of the two, and some question the benfit to Beaumont and its patients.
Levin's office tells Crain's that he planned to talk with Beaumont CEO John Fox on Tuesday morning. Fox has come under attack on a number of fronts. The majority of nurses and doctors have expressed no confidence in his leadership, which has been marked by cost cutting and the loss of some prominent doctors in fields like cardiology.
Big donors have also criticized the hopital system's operation. One has called for his firing, along with some of his top lieutenants.
"We appreciate the opportunity to have continued conversations with lawmakers about Beaumont's future," Beaumont said in a statement to Crain's. "There is no immediate action planned now regarding a potential partnership with Advocate Aurora Health.
"Beaumont Health is also very proud of how our quality metrics and supporting data have improved overall after the (2014) merger of Beaumont Health System, Oakwood Healthcare and Botsford Heath Care. Before proceeding with any partnership with any party, we would ensure the transaction would demonstrably help us improve Beaumont's quality, lower costs and provide jobs, growth and investment opportunities here in Michigan.
Deadline Detroit contributing columnist Eric Starkman has written a series of articles raising questions about the merger and the hospital system's leadership under Fox.
Read the full statement:
As an overwhelming number of Beaumont hospital staff and donors sound the alarm on this proposed merger, we must also step forward to express our growing concern on behalf of our constituents who rely on Beaumont Health and could experience higher health care costs without improving—and, according to some studies, even worsening—patient outcomes following this merger.
Evidence suggests that consolidation—and the corresponding diminution of competition—has allowed hospitals to demand higher payment rates in their negotiations with commercial insurers.
According to the National Academy for State Health Policy, horizontal hospital consolidation results in 20 to 40 percent higher prices, with the largest price spikes occurring in concentrated, metropolitan markets such as the Metro Detroit area. The same report found that even geographic cross-market mergers like the one proposed here resulted in 6 to 9 percent price spikes.
A widely cited study published by the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year found that ‘hospital acquisition by another hospital or hospital system was associated with modestly worse patient experiences and no significant changes in readmission or mortality rates.’ The researchers hypothesize that these effects might be due to increased bureaucracy within larger entities, which, they argue, ‘could divert resources away from investments to improve care.’ They also suggest that the absence of competitor hospitals might result in worse patient experiences.
As our community’s representatives in Washington and Lansing, we believe it is our responsibility to speak out when our constituents’ ability to access affordable, quality care might be in jeopardy. During a global pandemic that has acutely impacted our region and claimed more than 7,000 Michigan lives, we call on the leadership of Beaumont to do what it is in the best interest of patients, not earnings, address the issues raised by medical staff concerning their ability to offer excellent care – and promptly reevaluate this proposed merger.”