Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, plans to acquire 82-bed Milton (Mass.) Hospital, according to a joint statement announcing a memorandum of understanding. The terms of the tentative agreement allow Milton to retain its board of directors and day-to-day oversight of operations and strategic planning efforts during a 180-day due diligence period. The memorandum gives 621-bed Beth Israel Deaconess approval rights over Milton’s strategic, financial and operational plans. Beth Israel Deaconess also would make “significant” investments to support Milton’s physician network and clinical capabilities, according to the statement. Milton’s board approved the memorandum April 25, and Beth Israel Deaconess’ board approved it in March. The hospitals have shared a clinical affiliation since 2003.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center agreed to pay $2.2 million to resolve whistle-blower allegations that it overbilled federal healthcare programs for anesthesia and radiology services between 2001 and 2007. The medical center did not admit liability in the settlement with the U.S. attorney’s office in Vermont, and hospital spokesman Dave Evancich said the organization will not be subject to a corporate integrity agreement. “We have in place what a corporate integrity agreement is designed to get you to. We were credited with rapid improvement since this first came to light in 2007,” Evancich said. Evancich said an internal investigation found that the hospital could not disprove whistle-blower allegations that it allowed residents and fellows in the critical-care department to administer services without being supervised by a physician as required by Medicare and Medicaid rules. The 369bed academic medical center agreed to pay more than $2.1 million to the federal government, $80,000 to the state of Vermont and $61,000 to New Hampshire. Former Dartmouth physician Dr. Thomas Prendergast, who filed the False Claims Act lawsuit that started the investigation in 2007, will receive $334,000 as part of the settlement, Evancich said.
The Vermont Senate has passed a bill designed to put the state on a path toward a universal, single-payer healthcare system. The bill gained final Senate approval April 26 on a vote of 21-9 and now moves to a conference committee where lawmakers will try to work out differences between the House and Senate versions. Key differences include the Senate’s insertion of a series of thresholds that must be met before the state can set up its publicly financed system, to be called Green Mountain Care (April 4, p. 16). Those thresholds include making sure the new system will give Vermont a healthcare cost growth rate lower than the national rate. Gov. Peter Shumlin said he is happy with passage of the legislation and looks forward to signing it.
The agreement calls for Beth Israel to make “significant investments” to support the clinical capabilities and physician network at Milton, left.