Dr. Peter Slavin named chairman of Massachusetts Hospital Association
Dr. Peter Slavin has been named chairman of the board of directors of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, after serving four years on the group’s executive committee. Slavin took over the role at the group’s annual meeting in Brewster last week.
Slavin has been president of Massachusetts General Hospital since 2003 and previously led the Mass. General physician organization. He will lead the board during an interesting time for the hospital group. Lawmakers are considering dueling plans to control health care costs that could have dramatically different effects on teaching hospitals and community hospitals, both represented in the association’s membership and on its executive committee.
In a speech at the hospital association meeting, Slavin pointed to epidemics that hospitals in Massachusetts have had a central role in fighting in past years.
“Influenza epidemics, polio epidemics, and world wars to name a few,” he said. “I would argue that perhaps the most significant threat to the future health of the people of Massachusetts is the rising cost of health care itself. We must tackle this challenge head on just like the others. To do so is our greatest challenge, our solemn responsibility, and a remarkable opportunity for us to lead.”
Lynn Nicholas, the association’s president, called the chairmanship a treasured position and said Slavin has already given a lot of time to the organization through other roles.
“He’s a very articulate spokesperson, which we appreciate,” she said.
Nicholas said the group is careful to balance the interests of its members. The association’s position statements require an 80 percent approval by members in order to pass. Slavin was preceded as chairman by Normand Deschene, chief executive of Lowell General Hospital, a community hospital. Next year, the chairman will be Patrick Muldoon, chief executive of HealthAlliance Hospital, which has campuses in Fitchburg and Leominster and is part of UMass Memorial Health Care.
Dues for the association are calculated according to hospitals’ volume of business and Partners HealthCare, the largest hospital system in Massachusetts and the parent company of Slavin’s hospital, is the biggest contributor, Nicholas said. She and a Partners spokesman declined to say what Partners pays.
The association, through Nicholas, has been vocal in urging lawmakers not to approve overly ambitious cost-control measures that could push hospitals to lay off workers or slash programs. She said the group steers clear of issues related to the distribution of market power among hospitals. Attorney General Martha Coakley and others have pointed to the clout of organizations such as Partners to explain significantly higher fees some hospitals get for providing similar services.
Hospital association members have voted to acknowledge disparities in payment in the state, Nicholas said, but they decided the issue did not rise to a level warranting direct government intervention through rate regulation.
But, the association opposes a House proposal to impose a “luxury tax” on hospitals that charge rates significantly higher than what hospitals in the state charge on average for the same services. Money collected would be distributed to hospitals struggling financially. Nicholas said government should not impose any new taxes on hospitals, particularly while it shortchanges them for care provided to Medicaid patients.
“We do not disagree that there are hospitals that are not able to get higher private pay rates,” she said. “They wouldn’t need it as much if government paid its fair share.”
Asked about proposals to give more authority to the attorney general to intervene in anti-competitive contracts, Nicholas said the group has not taken a position on the issue.
But, she said, Coakley “has a great deal of authority now. She uses it.”
Others on the group’s executive committee include Michael Sack and Peter Holden, chief executives of Hallmark Health and Jordan Hospital. Ellen Zane, who preceeded Deschene as chairwoman and is retired as chief executive of Tufts Medical Center, is also on the committee.Chelsea Conaboy can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @cconaboy.
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|White Coat Notes covers the latest from the health care industry, hospitals, doctors offices, labs, insurers, and the corridors of government. Chelsea Conaboy previously covered health care for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @cconaboy.|
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