Mass. Hospitals Mull Acquisition, Layoffs; Calif. Hospital Districts Questioned

In Massachusetts, Partners HealthCare is in talks to acquire South Shore hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess cuts jobs after an admissions dip. In California, lawmakers probe taxpayer-funded hospital districts and their stockpiling of cash.

Boston Globe: Partners In Talks To Acquire South Shore Hospital
Partners HealthCare System Inc. is in talks to acquire South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, one of the largest remaining independent hospitals in the Boston area, in a deal that would reshape the competitive landscape in the region's health care market, according to two health care professionals who have been briefed by the parties on the negotiations. The 318-bed regional hospital serves a swath of southeastern Massachusetts extending from Quincy to Taunton to Cape Cod (Weisman, 4/11).

Boston Globe: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center To Shed Jobs, Close Patient Unit
Responding to a "small dip"’ in patient admissions, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has laid off 40 to 50 employees and closed a 24-bed unit, executives said. The hospital, which has about 9,000 employees, said in March that it planned to eliminate roughly 15 jobs, but that number has grown. Spokeswoman Judy Glasser said Wednesday that the layoffs "were across the board"’ and include nurses, patient transporters, and support staff (Kowalczyk, 4/11).

The Sacramento Bee: Dickinson Questions Whether California Hospital Districts Are Past Their Prime
After World War II, California lawmakers created taxpayer-funded hospital districts to serve rural and poor regions, particularly as soldiers required medical care at home. Some of California's remaining 73 districts still treat residents who would otherwise go without medical services. … In a Wednesday hearing, Assembly members questioned whether health care districts remain the best use of scarce tax dollars in a post-recession world (Yamamura, 4/12).

California Watch/The Bay Citizen: State Lawmakers Question Health Districts' Spending
Taxpayer-funded health care districts should reduce their administrative costs, spend more on public health programs and stop stockpiling money for dubious projects, critics told a state legislative oversight committee today. Public health officials and taxpayer groups urged lawmakers to demand more accountability from the roughly 30 health care districts in California that no longer run hospitals, in a departure from their original mission (Gollan and Mieszkowski, 4/11). 

In the meantime, St. Jude answers critics after reports of problems with some of their implanted heart devices --

The New York Times: At St. Jude, Firing Back At Critics
As St. Jude Medical defends itself against reports of deaths and injuries linked to problems with an implanted heart device, it finds itself in familiar territory. Since 2005, two competitors, Medtronic and Guidant, have faced similar scrutiny about critical flaws in their products (Meier and Thomas, 4/11).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.