Preliminary approval of Boston Children’s $1B expansion addresses concerns

State group says preliminary approval addressed concerns of the planned $1 billion expansion to Boston Children’s Hospital. The state’s health care concerns were that the project could raise health care spending and threaten competitors.

Stuart Altman, chair of the Health Policy Commission, said the conditions imposed on the project by the Department of Public Health in the preliminary approval have been sufficient to mitigate the cost growth concerns.

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Among the conditions, the hospital is not allowed to pass the cost of the project onto its patients, and must demonstrate that new patients are coming from out of state. If the hospital is not in compliance, the state will withhold licenses for additional beds.

The agreement comes two weeks after the commission wrote a letter to the state expressing its concern that the project would raise health care spending in Massachusetts by millions of dollars, and could threaten the operations of competing pediatric hospitals by taking local patients.

The hospital said it would not raise the spending more than the benchmark, and the conditions will be sure to hold them to their word.

The commission hasn’t been the only group in recent weeks to raise concerns about the expansion project. The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans and the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization — a nonprofit advocacy group that frequently takes a stance on health care issues — have sent letters to the Department of Public Health echoing the commission’s concerns and calling for the project to be halted.

The Department of Public Health is set to take a final vote on the project next Thursday.

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