By Katie Lannan
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
The Beth Israel Deaconess system, Lahey Health, New England Baptist Hospital, Mount Auburn Hospital and Anna Jaques Hospital on Thursday announced they had signed an agreement to merge into a new regional system, a move that would mark a major change to the state’s health care market.
The new system aims to provide high-quality care at a lower cost and would include 13 hospitals, more than 800 primary care physicians and more than 3,500 specialists, the organizations said in a statement. They said three-quarters of all patients in eastern Massachusetts would live within five miles of a primary care doctor affiliated with the new system.
“This transaction involves some of the biggest and most well-established health systems in the Commonwealth,” Health Policy Commission Chair Stuart Altman said in a statement. “It represents the most significant change in the structure of the Massachusetts health care market in more than 20 years, and it will further consolidate our health care market into a small number of major systems and a declining number of independent community hospitals.”
Steward Health Care, which has 10 hospitals in Massachusetts, in May announced plans to acquire the Tennessee-based hospital system IASIS, making it the largest private for-profit hospital operator in the country.
The Health Policy Commission later this month will be asked to authorize a comprehensive analysis of Partners HealthCare System’s planned acquisition of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, after HPC staff this month found the transaction could potentially “result in meaningful impacts on health care costs.”
The planned Lahey/Beth Israel Deaconess merger is subject to review by state and federal regulators, and the hospitals will continue to operate independently during the review. The Health Policy Commission will examine potential positive and negative impacts on health care costs, quality access and market competitiveness, Altman said.
Each hospital in the system will keep its name, remain a nonprofit with its own board and leadership team, and maintain any existing research and education programs, according to the announcement. A new system board will also be formed to govern the organization, with Lahey Health Board of Trustees Chair Ann-Ellen Hornidge at the helm.
“There is a clear need for a cost-effective alternative health system in Massachusetts,” Hornidge said in a statement. “We are creating a strong new health system that focuses on what patients and their families rightfully deserve — a commitment to the highest level of care and clinical innovation at lower costs, with convenience of access for patients and their families.”
Beth Israel Deaconess CEO Kevin Tabb will serve as CEO of the new system.