Another group launches opposition to Boston Children's $1B expansion - Boston Business Journal

By: Jessica Bartlett

Last-minute opposition to Boston Children’s Hospital’s planned $1 billion expansion is mounting with yet another group filing a strongly worded letter to the state calling for the project to be rejected.

The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, an advocacy group of 50 religious organizations that fight for social justice and which regularly petitions the state against rising health care costs, submitted a letter on Tuesday to the Department of Public Health voicing concerns that the project would raise health care spending in Massachusetts.

“We should all be very worried about what Massachusetts tax and premium payers may face if this project goes forward as planned,” states the letter, which is signed by GBIO officials.

The letter, which comes just a week before the state is set to formally vote on the project, builds off a letter issued last week by the state’s health care watchdog, The Health Policy Commission. The commission said the project might take patients from competing hospitals and subsequently shutter them.

The group is the third such organization to file an opposition letter with the state in the last two weeks. The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, which represents over a dozen insurers in the state, also sent a letter to the state voicing concerns.

The rebuttal is in stark contrast to the state’s preliminary approval of the project. In a recommendation issued last week, the state said it supported the project with a number of conditions, including a promise that Children’s not pass on the cost of the project to patients and insurers, and a commitment to reporting from where patients are coming. If Children’s does not follow the conditions, the state can refuse to issue licenses for new beds.

Hospital spokesman Rob Graham said in a statement that those conditions would protect against any potential cost increases, which at their worst-case scenario would equate to a .03 percent increase in costs to the state’s $20 billion health care spending.

“Boston Children’s has agreed to the conditions in principle because it remains committed to staying within the state’s cost containment goals and our projections show that most new patients will be coming from out of state,” Graham said. “The independent cost analysis overseen by DPH confirmed that the project is consistent with the Commonwealth’s efforts to meet the health care cost containment goals.”

The hospital has also continued to emphasize that the project is not just a luxury but the addition of 71 beds and renovation to existing buildings is critical to care for patients that are increasingly complex and as technology evolves.

“Without a new clinical building, and upgrades and single rooms across the existing Longwood campus, Boston Children’s will be increasingly unable to meet the growing demand for complex care from within and outside the Commonwealth,” Graham said.