Watchdog: Children’s Hospital expansion to hike patients’ costs - Boston Herald

By: Lindsay Kelter

A proposed $1 billion expansion at Boston Children’s hospital could send state health care costs soaring and drive out competition, according to the state Health Policy Commission.

The commission will submit a letter to the Department of Public Health warning the plans could cause the hospital to acquire more patients and “destabilize competing local pediatric care programs.”

“Now, I don’t think we’re in the business of picking winners and losers in and of itself, and I believe in markets, and if left alone, that’s the way the market works, and, you know, it’s because one institution is perceived to be better than the other, and that’s OK,” HPC Chairman Stuart Altman said. “But we can’t rule out the implication that would have on costs.”

The plans include a new tower on its Longwood Medical Area campus, along with various renovations. In total, the 404-bed hospital would gain 71 beds, four operating rooms and two new MRI machines.

In the analysis, the commission estimates that spending will increase from $8.5 million to $18.1 million each year.

The hospital said the data used by HPC “is flawed, misleading and speculative.”

“Even if HPC’s worst-case scenarios plays out, the cost impact would equal a 0.033 percent increase in costs to Massachusetts consumers per HPC math,” according to a hospital statement. “Currently, Boston Children’s is seeing that early trends are consistent with our projections.”