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Mass. taking its time on proposed Beth Israel-Lahey merger

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Lahey Health completed merger plans way back in  last July, but Massachusetts officials are still taking a very hard look at the deal.

Indeed, the state Department of Health organized a public forum  on the potential huge Greater Boston merger,  which includes 13 hospitals and would reshape the healthcare landscape in the area. The new system would unite under a new parent company, “NewCo.”

Research from across America suggests that the hospital sector’s seemingly relentless consolidation can boost costs for consumers and insurers, among  other potential downsides for patients. However, independent hospitals such as Anna Jaques Hospital, in Newburyport, Mass., affiliated with the Beth Israel Deaconess empire, that choose to stay on their own face financial challenges.

Massachusetts’s Health Policy Commission is also taking a look at the merger, with their complete report due this summer.

The merger “represents the most significant change in the structure of the Massachusetts healthcare market in more than 20 years and will reshape the delivery of care for millions of patients,”  said Stuart Altman, Ph.D., chairman of the commission.

Lahey Health and Beth Israel, meanwhile, both asserted that the merger would  lower costs,  through, presumably, efficiencies of scale, noting that  healthcare costs in eastern Massachusetts are far higher than those in many other states.

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