Our Legal Comments to the DPH

We filed by the DPH deadline yesterday the final version of our legal Comments to the Department of Public Health's (DPH) Determination of Need (DoN) program, which may be read in full here. We strongly encourage everyone to read and circulate this document! 

As you know, BCH has applied to the DPH for a Determination of Need (DoN) application – a step all hospitals in Massachusetts must take to justify new projects and expansion. The DPH held a hearing on the proposed DoN on February 25, which was attended by approximately 400 individuals - the majority opposed the destruction of Prouty Garden.

In the letter, we assert that BCH has failed to show that there is a need for the new space that warrants a 1.5 billion dollar immediate expansion at the expense of one of the nations premiere healing gardens. The hospital also failed to describe the effect of the project on indigent and Medicaid patients, and on prices to insurers and other patients, as required by the DoN process. We also ask the state to halt pre-construction work already being done at the hospital in apparent violation of state regulations.
BCH’s application also failed to discuss alternatives to the proposed project, as required by the state. In addition, the hospital did not take into account the effect of the expansion of the BCH Waltham campus, making an adequate analysis of the hospital’s actual needs impossible.

The March 7 letter notes that BCH has embarked on an aggressive international marketing campaign to increase patient volume and revenues, and asserts that recruiting international patients is not a permissible reason for expansion under state regulations.
“In summary, it is abundantly clear that the main purpose of the Project is to increase revenues by increasing the number of international and out-of-state patients.  BCH is engaged in purposeful and substantial marketing efforts to increase the number of international and out-of-state patients.  This has resulted in a substantial increase in such patients, who are a source of substantial revenue.  It is equally clear that the percentage of patients from Massachusetts at BCH is decreasing significantly over the last few years,” the letter states. “The purpose of the Determination of Need  program is to make sure that adequate health care resources are made available to every person within Massachusetts at the lowest reasonable aggregate cost and to ensure the non-duplication of services. BCH’s strategy is not a permissible purpose under the statute and is directly contrary to the purpose of the DoN program.  BCH’s application for a DoN should be denied for this reason alone.  It is unnecessary for DPH to go any further."