Letter to the Editor: Hospitals’ physician acquisitions

August 13, 2014

Journal Inquirer

While the Journal Inquirer’s editorial “Another Cost of Having For-Profit Hospitals” (Aug. 4) appropriately raises concerns about the rapid acquisition of independent physician practices by hospitals, it inaccurately suggests that this is unique to for-profit hospitals.

In reality, both non-profit and for-profit hospitals have aggressively bought up and consolidated physician practices. This is a trend nationally and here in Connecticut that greatly worries me as well.

In Connecticut for example, Yale New Haven Hospital and Hartford Hospital, both non-profits, have also acquired physician practices in their regions at an alarming rate. As a result, it is now often difficult to find an “independent” physician in certain specialty areas. Patients are also faced with additional “facility fees” when their doctor is acquired by a hospital, placing more financial burdens on people seeking medical care.

My father was an independent family doctor in New Haven. He understood the importance of establishing a long term trusting relationship with his patients and of taking the time to sit and talk to them as individuals. I have watched with alarm as doctors like my father disappear.

This is why I worked with Attorney General George Jepsen, Senator Martin Looney and others to pass legislation this year that will, for the first time, subject these acquisitions to scrutiny and review. The Attorney General will now receive advance notice of physician practice acquisitions so that he can investigate any anti-competitive effects such transactions may have. Larger acquisitions will also be reviewed and approved by the Office of Health Care Access to determine the impact on patient choice and costs.

Thus, rather than promoting physician practice acquisitions by hospitals, the legislation we passed this year will actually slow down this trend. It will give the state the tools it needs to protect patient choice and access to affordable care.

With the rapid changes in our health care system, continued vigilance on the part of policy makers will be necessary.

I too mourn the loss of the unique independent family doctor/patient relationship, and I am committed to supporting policy decisions that protect the affordability and quality of healthcare in years to come.

-State Senator Len Fasano (R-North Haven), Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore