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Letter to Attorney General Martha Coakley from Health Care for All

Letter to Attorney General Martha Coakley from Health Care for All

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Published by BostonGlobe
On proposed Caritas Christi deal.
On proposed Caritas Christi deal.

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Published by: BostonGlobe on Sep 21, 2010
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09/21/2010

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September 21, 2010Attorney General Martha CoakleyOffice of the Attorney General100 Cambridge StreetBoston, MA 02114-2509RE: Caritas Christi/Cerberus Proposed TransactionDear Attorney General Coakley:We are writing to express our serious concerns with the rapidly moving processfor government approval regarding the proposed purchase of the non-profitCaritas Christi Health Care System (Caritas) by Steward Healthcare System LLC(Steward), a subsidiary of the Wall Street private equity firm Cerberus CapitalManagement (Cerberus). While we understand the desire of the proponents tomove this sale forward quickly, we urge you to conduct this review in adeliberate, transparent, and inclusive manner.As you are aware, this proposed conversion is unprecedented in theCommonwealth. This complex transaction involves the state’s second largesthospital chain and tenth leading employer. The sale could impact access to vitalservices in many communities and has far-reaching implications for the future of the state’s healthcare system. News reports detail Cerberus’ interest inpurchasing as many as six additional hospitals to add to their network.Given the stakes for the Commonwealth and its citizens, we are concerned aboutthe rush to approve such a complicated transaction. Community-based groupshave articulated a set of issues and concerns that they would like addressed toprotect and enhance the health care services that these community hospitalsprovide. Other transactions involving the sale and conversion of single non-profitto for-profit hospitals, both in Massachusetts and in other states, have beenevaluated and approved on a much more extended timeframe.We urge you to make sure this approval process provides all stakeholders withthe time and opportunity to have a dialogue with the proponents of the deal andgovernment officials about the deal’s impacts.We also ask you to make public for review the information, data, and analysisthat your office and hired consultants have compiled over the past three months;to require Steward to provide a detailed business plan and how it will spend itsproposed $400+ million of capital investment for public comment and analysis;and, to provide the public a forum to provide feedback with this new information.
 
 The six community hearings held in rapid fire succession in June and July of thisyear provided limited opportunities for true engagement between the communityand the proponents. These hearings were held even though Steward still has notsubmitted 60 of 64 appendices referenced in its Transaction Summary and AssetPurchase Agreement and the findings from the independent review undertakenby the AG remain unavailable to the public.It should be acknowledged that Steward/Cerberus’ ownership of the Caritasnetwork brings with it many risks. As a private equity fund, Cerberus’ bottom lineobligation is to its investors, not to the Commonwealth, or to the patients in thecommunities served by the Caritas system. Cerberus, like many other privateequity funds, has a track record of saddling acquisitions with debt whileextracting significant returns for itself and investors. Cerberus’ history is markedby abandonment of poorly performing companies without regard for communityimpact. In this case, Cerberus is entering an industry where it has no experience,and is placing itself in a fragile situation where the consequences of failure andabandonment could be life threatening. Cerberus’ need to produce investmentreturns raises real concerns about the potential for its financial success to comeat a great cost to Massachusetts’ healthcare system. The proposed sale would remove the Caritas hospitals from public ownership,potentially impacting access to essential health services for our state’s poorestresidents while having far reaching implications for the future of Massachusetts’healthcare system. We urge the Attorney General to make available to the publicthe Cerberus financial and business plan, the remaining appendices, and theinformation that your office has gathered over the past three months. Patients,community organizations, and Massachusetts taxpayers have the right not just tobe heard quickly, but to have the time and access to materials to fully engage inthe public comment process.We look forward to speaking with you. Please contact Matt Wilson at Health CareFor All at 617-275-2940 ormwilson@hcfama.org.Sincerely,Amy Whitcomb Slemmer, Executive DirectorHealth Care For AllHealth Access CoalitionLawrence General HospitalSignature Healthcare Brockton HospitalSouthcoast Hospital GroupMatt Selig, Executive DirectorHealth Law Advocates
 
Dan Driscoll, Chief Executive OfficerHarbor Health ServicesRob Restuccia, Executive DirectorCommunity CatalystRepresentative David TorrisiRepresentative Steven D’AmicoSenator Susan TuckerSenator Patricia JehlenAllan Rodgers, Executive Director The Massachusetts Law Reform InstituteAl Norman, Executive DirectorMass Home Care AssociationLaurie Martinelli,Executive DirectorNAMI MassSheldon H. Barr, President and Chief Executive OfficerHealth ImperativesSheila Casey, Executive DirectorNeighborhood Legal Services, Lynn/LawrenceCarol Trust, Executive DirectorNational Association of Social Workers (NASW-MA Chapter) Juliana Langille, Executive DirectorCommunity Connections of BrocktonLucinda WilliamsDorchester House Governing BoardElizabeth Saville, PresidentBrockton Interfaith CommunityGlen Ohlund, DirectorSelf Help Community Development CorporationGreater Brockton CHNA Steering CommitteeKaren Hall, DirectorStoughton Youth Commission

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