This statement by East Bay Democrat Senator Lou DiPalma, quoted in a WPRI article, struck a note worthy of elaboration:
“We have never seen a proposal where one of Rhode Island’s largest hospital systems would be acquired by a hospital network that is located in a state adjacent to Rhode Island,” DiPalma said in a statement. “The potential for patients, jobs and services to migrate to Massachusetts is a serious concern.” He added, “This proposal presents a unique risk to Rhode Island’s hospitals and health care system.”
Here’s the thing: That migration is already happening. For reasons I won’t go into, I’ve had reason to hear Rhode Islanders’ candid thoughts about medical care in the area, and just as “everybody knows” you need a federal judge for justice in the legal system, folks also know that you need a Boston hospital for top-notch care.
Some of that is just inevitable, because Boston is a higher-tier city than Providence, but that’s been true for a long time. But these mergers aren’t under consideration because Rhode Island hospitals are doing great and represent a great buy for an expanding corporation. Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket hasn’t been doing the dance of closing hospital because people aren’t using it.
As usual, Rhode Island’s government officials are looking to use the power of government to stop erosion when they should be evaluating what it is they are doing that starts the process. We need freedom and innovation, but that takes power away from political insiders, so… there you go.