- Mass General Brigham has withdrawn plans to construct three separate surgery centers outside of Boston that would have cost the system an estimated $223 million.
- After learning that a state regulatory body would not recommend approval for the project, Mass General Brigham decided to pull the applications, the health system said in an email statement Monday.
- The system did receive recommendations for conditional approval for two other large scale projects, including a $1.9 billion tower at Massachusetts General Hospital and a $150 million expansion at Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital in Boston, according to documents with the state's department of public health.
The proposal from early last year for the three suburban surgery centers drew controversy.
Community leaders, competitors and citizens raised concerns about the potential for increased costs and the impact on established medical centers if patients were siphoned away.
In its own analysis of the projects, the state's Health Policy Commission seemed to confirm those fears.
The ambulatory projects would likely result in increased spending between $9.3 million and nearly $30 million for commercially insured patients, according to a letter from the commission to the public health department.
The commission said in the January letter the projects are likely to "drive substantial patient volume and revenue to the higher-cost MGB system, particularly commercially insured volume, and likely away from other lower-cost providers."
According to a transcript of a public hearing in April of last year, John Fernandez, president of Mass General Brigham Integrated Care, said patients expect to receive care locally and said these ambulatory projects would bring outpatient care closer to them.
The commission in January required Mass General Brigham to submit a performance improvement plan, the first of its kind for the group, following concerns the state may be unable to meet its benchmark cost growth target. In its analysis, the commission found Mass General Brigham's prices are higher than almost all other providers in the state and are the driving force behind spending, not increased use of services.
The withdrawn projects called for building surgery centers that each housed four operating rooms, imaging equipment and clinic space.
Healthcare projects in the state have to demonstrate a need for such expansions and renovations. Staff did recommend approval for both the tower project and expansion project at the women's hospital with conditions.
Staff recommendations from the department of public health "are a good indicator of how the Public Health Council will vote on the projects next month, the final hurdle for the projects," the Boston Globe reported.