Hospital conversion bill passed, but outcome not clear

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In the last hours of the session the General Assembly passed legislation regarding for-profit hospital conversions and hospitals’ ability to merge with physician practices. The legislation was proposed in response to Tenet’s plans to partner with Yale-New Haven, Waterbury, Manchester, Rockville, and Bristol hospitals. The deal required the ability of for-profits to purchase physician practices. Labor groups have been wary of the proposal, concerned about protecting consumer and worker rights. The final language changes current law to make it easier for hospitals to convert to for-profit status, but increases state oversight. The bill includes important consumer protections, for example hospitals must notify patients’ community physician within 24 hours of admission. The bill was negotiated with heavy input from both sides, but Tenet and YNHH issued a statement critical of the bill stating that if enacted it could jeopardize the deal. This may be very good news for controlling health spending in CT as evidence mounts that hospitals’ purchase of private practices increases overall costs.