STATE HOUSE – Rep. David Morales is urging state regulators to carefully weigh the potential effects on patient care and employment when analyzing the proposed merger between the state’s two largest health systems.
Attorney General Peter F. Neronha today declared the application for the proposed merger between Lifespan and Care New England complete, meaning the state will now move forward in reviewing its merits.
Representative Morales said he has significant concerns about how creating a health care monolith in the state would affect patients and health care workers, and that the state should prioritize those concerns front and center as it weighs the plan.
“We should be incredibly cautious of a proposal that seeks to create a gigantic conglomerate in an industry that, by its very nature, requires personal, individual care. I am very concerned that allowing one entity to become overwhelmingly dominant within our health care system is going to have serious, detrimental effects for Rhode Islanders, as we would have a near-monopoly with little oversight and accountability,” said Representative Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence). “This decision must be based on whether a merger will actually improve the quality of care for Rhode Islanders and make it easier and more affordable for working people to get the care and treatment that they need. We cannot allow profit to be valued over the needs of patients.”
Representative Morales said he is most concerned about the potential for higher healthcare costs, lower quality of care for patients and worker layoffs.
Saying he agrees with concerns raised in a working paper on the merger issued by the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner, Representative Morales said Rhode Island must apply strict regulations if this merger is approved to move forward, such as a cap on hospital revenue, metrics that demonstrate an improvement for the quality of care patients receive and stricter oversight on employment practices.
“The weight of this decision will have such significant implications for the health of Rhode Islanders as it will span generations. The stakes are very high, so the standards by which the proposal is judged must also be very high. Lifespan and Care New England must clearly demonstrate how creating a single, larger system will result in measurable improvements to Rhode Islanders’ health and the care they receive, or we should not allow it to move forward,” said Representative Morales.