Senators raise concerns about Yale-New Haven clinic closure plan, citing L+M talks [The Day]

July 2, 2015

The Day

State Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, and Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr., D-Branford, told state health regulators they are concerned with plans by the Yale-New Haven Health System to close its clinics in East Haven and Branford, especially in light of expanding with a possible affiliation with Lawrence + Memorial Healthcare in New London.

In a June 29 letter, the two state senators asked that the state Office of Health Care Access, which regulates hospitals, to conduct a full Certificate of Need review including public hearings, to carefully examine the impact these closures will have on access to care for patients in the affected communities.

“Given the virtual monopoly that YNHHS has over many health care services, it is incumbent upon the state to ensure that it maintains adequate access to affordable care,” Fasano and Kenney said in the letter. “Therefore, we are asking that OHCA subject these service termination requests to a rigorous review that includes ample opportunity for public comment and input.”

William Gerrish, spokesman for the health department and OHCA, said the agency previously told Yale-New Haven that it would need to file a Certificate of Need application for the closures and that the process would include a public hearing.

In their letter to Jewell Mullen, state public health commissioner, Kennedy and Fasano said they are concerned that after consolidating physician practices and health care services in the greater New Haven Area, Yale-New Haven is now “choosing to deal with new burdens by terminating community services simply because it is not making as much money as it would like instead of making a decision based on maintaining access to care.”

They also questioned why Yale-New Haven is choosing to offset the impact of the state budget by targeting certain communities for service reductions, while simultaneously expanding in other areas and working on a possible affiliation with Lawrence + Memorial Healthcare in New London.

Vin Petrini, spokesman for Yale-New Haven, said Fasano and Kennedy should have discussed their concerns with healthcare network officials before sending the letter.
“We could have provided the appropriate context for our decision,” he said.

He added that the state budget that passed with the approval of Kennedy and Fasano will force Yale-New Haven to pay $52 million in state hospital taxes.
In light of that, trimming expenses by eliminating overlap and duplication of services is necessary, he said.

It also means that partnerships and affiliations are a prudent step.

“That’s why efficiencies that can be achieved with economies of scale are so important,” he said. “Partnerships and affiliations will preserve and expand access to care. Conflating the two issues (the clinic closures and the possible affiliation with L+M) is a mistake.”