Features — 22 October 2016 — by Bernard Bulwer
WHEN MONEY FOLLOWS EXCELLENCE

When I look through my window, this is the institution I see: Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH)—the #1 ranked children’s hospital in the United States.

It is hard to exaggerate what this institution does, and the depths of dedication it has shown to children—not just children of the USA—but also to the children the world over, including Belize. Their motto is: “Until EVERY Child Is Well”.

I’ve sat for years in their cardiovascular grand rounds. I have observed a level of commitment to excellence and care that brings me close to tears. I’ve seen it nowhere else! I’ve seen these leading world experts—spend countless hours discussing what’s best for children in their care—often the sickest of them all. Money is not what drives them. Even the 50-yr+ olds (former patients) continue receiving care at BCH! They’ve earned and maintained their No. 1 Rankings for all the the right reasons.

Now huge money … 1 Billion U.S. dollars … bigger than the national budget of many small countries, is being invested to expand their services. Some, for various reasons (see attachment), are opposing.

Next door, within the Harvard Medical School Longwood Medical Area Campus, is the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, formerly the Harvard School of Public Health. What made this name change possible was a US$ 350 million donation in Nov 2014 by, the Chan family of Hong Kong/Boston. As a reminder, Harvard became known as Harvard because of the philanthropic donation by John Harvard, a clergyman.

Not to be outdone, NYC hedge fund billionaire John Paulson gave Harvard U.S. $400 million to Harvard Engineering—the largest single donation in its history. Many complained, calling it perverse (a case the rich getting richer!).

These donations and expansions, which some consider unfair, even perverse, is the reality. It is based on a principle. Whatever the motives, the pursuit of excellence attracts money. Even more money. People bet and bank on horses that win! Just ask Apple and Facebook!

This principle, which some find difficult to accept, and even reject, is also expounded in the Parable of the Talents, which says, “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Love it or loathe it … This is the reality.

Another group launches opposition to Boston Children’s $1B expansion

Jessica Bartlett, Reporter, Boston Business Journal

Wed. Oct. 5, 2016

Last-minute opposition to Boston Children’s Hospital’s planned $1 billion expansion is mounting with yet another group filing a strongly worded letter to the state calling for the project to be rejected.

The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, an advocacy group of 50 religious organizations that fight for social justice and which regularly petitions the state against rising health care costs, submitted a letter on Tuesday to the Department of Public Health voicing concerns that the project would raise health care spending in Massachusetts.

“We should all be very worried about what Massachusetts tax and premium payers may face if this project goes forward as planned,” states the letter, which is signed by GBIO officials.
The letter, which comes just a week before the state is set to formally vote on the project, builds off a letter issued last week by the state’s health care watchdog, The Health Policy Commission. The commission said the project might take patients from competing hospitals and subsequently shutter them.

The group is the third such organization to file an opposition letter with the state in the last two weeks. The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, which represents over a dozen insurers in the state, also sent a letter to the state voicing concerns.

The rebuttal is in stark contrast to the state’s preliminary approval of the project. In a recommendation issued last week, the state said it supported the project with a number of conditions, including a promise that Children’s not pass on the cost of the project to patients and insurers, and a commitment to reporting from where patients are coming. If Children’s does not follow the conditions, the state can refuse to issue licenses for new beds.

Hospital spokesman Rob Graham said in a statement that those conditions would protect against any potential cost increases, which at their worst-case scenario would equate to a .03 percent increase in costs to the state’s $20 billion health care spending.

“Boston Children’s has agreed to the conditions in principle because it remains committed to staying within the state’s cost containment goals and our projections show that most new patients will be coming from out of state,” Graham said. “The independent cost analysis overseen by DPH confirmed that the project is consistent with the Commonwealth’s efforts to meet the health care cost containment goals.”

The hospital has also continued to emphasize that the project is not just a luxury but the addition of 71 beds and renovation to existing buildings is critical to care for patients that are increasingly complex and as technology evolves.

“Without a new clinical building, and upgrades and single rooms across the existing Longwood campus, Boston Children’s will be increasingly unable to meet the growing demand for complex care from within and outside the Commonwealth,” Graham said.

(Jessica Bartlett covers health care, including hospitals, health IT, health policy and insurance, as well as the beer industry.)

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