Thursday, June 12, 2014

Look at this comment in a story by WBUR's Martha Bebinger by a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Attorney General--as concern arises about her announced sell-out, er deal, with Partners Healthcare System:

Coakley’s spokesman says she is “committed to being transparent and allowing for feedback should a final agreement [with Partners] be reached.”

This is the same AG who plastered the airwaves a few weeks ago with this message:

In a resolution that would fundamentally alter the negotiating power of Partners HealthCare for 10 years and control health costs across its entire network, Attorney General Martha Coakley today announced a groundbreaking agreement with Partners that would allow the organization to acquire South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Healthcare.

While the press release acknowledged that the deal was subject to finalization, we all know that these kind of announcements are not meant as trial balloons.  Particularly during a gubernatorial campaign, you don't announce something like this unless you are sure the deal is done.

But perhaps the AG is having some second thoughts now: "Should a final agreement [with Partners] be reached." Bebinger notes:

In an unusual, perhaps unprecedented move, leaders from across the health care industry are calling for closer scrutiny of a deal that would cap prices for Partners HealthCare in the short term but would let the state’s largest hospital network add four more hospitals.

The pressure is mounting on Coakley just a few days before the state’s Democratic nominating convention where Coakley, a candidate for governor, is expected to gain enough delegate votes to get on the primary ballot.

This issue is big enough, in terms of the impact on the state economy for decades to come, to cost the AG the election.*  And she now knows it. My prediction: Watch for her to weasel out of this deal (or perhaps delay "finalization" until much later in the election cycle.)


* Disclosure:  I have donated money to two other candidates in this race, one of whom has now come out in opposition to the deal.


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