Viewpoint: Mass General's controversial $400M expansion would lower patient costs

Boston-based Mass General Brigham's controversial $400 million plan to build three ASCs would bring lower-cost care to Massachusetts communities, John Fernandez, MD, president of Mass Eye and Ear, wrote in a Feb. 21 piece in Mass Live

Mass General Brigham is planning three ASCs in Massachusetts — in Westborough, Westwood and Woburn — that would offer surgery, physician services and diagnostic imaging. 

Dr. Fernandez cites the state's former moratorium on new ASCs as having a hand on why Massachusetts "consistently ranks at the bottom in getting healthcare out of hospitals and into less expensive community settings." The moratorium was lifted in 2017 and replaced with a process that requires providers to establish that their plan meets state criteria, according to Dr. Fernandez. 

After the moratorium was lifted, UMass Memorial Health Care, Shields Healthcare Group and Reliant Medical Group opened a 35,000-square-foot ASC. 

"It is ironic that the for-profit Shields Healthcare, along with UMass Memorial Health Care, now lead the opposition to Mass General Brigham’s plan by publicly claiming that it increases costs," he wrote. 

There have been two reports released on the cost analysis since the plan was announced. 

One independent report, conducted by Sean May, PhD, of Charles River Associates, says healthcare spending for patients would drop if the patients switch from higher-priced hospitals to the Mass General ASCs. The analysis is contrary to a report released by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey which said the plan would raise healthcare costs and create roughly $385 million in profits a year for the hospital.


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