Impacts of Travel Ban on Boston Hospitals

 

It has been six months since the state announced its decision to approve the Boston Children's Hospital Determination of Need (DoN) for destruction of Prouty Garden and construction of the $1 billion building that will double the size of the hospital. 

Much has happened since then -- all of which calls into serious question the wisdom of BCH's plan to support the new complex entirely with patients drawn from the Middle East and Asia. The election of Donald Trump has changed the circumstances for hospitals across the country. President Trump has taken steps to bar travelers from the Middle East to come to the U.S. purportedly to keep America safe from terrorists. Regardless of whether such a position is practical or even legal, the reality is that travelers from the Middle East to the U.S. have declined precipitously since the November election.

Emirates Airlines, which operates flights between Boston and the Middle East, recently cut its number of flights by 50 percent because of a decline in demand. 

While it is hard to discern the effect of the administration's trade and diplomatic policies toward China, there is a high probability that travel between the two countries for medical care will decline. Also, China is building more hospitals -- some in partnership with U.S. partners such as Massachusetts General Hospital. This will reduce the need for Chinese citizens to travel to the U.S. for care.

In the aftermath of the election, BCH has not publicly addressed the impact of these developments on its business plan that support the massive new building. 

Another important change in circumstances is that hospitals across the country are re-calibrating their financial positions after the President and House of Representatives have made it clear they will slash federal spending on hospitals. The bill recently approved by the House slashed $880 billion from Medicaid, a major funder of health care at U..S. hospitals. 

While BCH treats a smaller percentage of Medicaid patients than its competitors and peers, it will certainly feel the bite of lower federal spending for healthcare and medical research. Again, BCH has not publicly addressed its financial position under the new circumstances, and how that will impact the need for a new $1 Billion building.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit against BCH and the Commonwealth challenging the legality of the DoN continues in Suffolk Superior Court...

While hospitals across the country are recalibrating their plans for expansion and their financial position in the wake of the Administration's moves on travel restrictions and health spending, BCH blithely continues with its new building. We can only hope the Board of Trustees takes its responsibilities seriously and calls a halt to this untimely and irresponsible expansion.