Jepsen asked to review Waterbury Hospital deal

Health care activists asked Attorney General George Jepsen on Friday to seek a new review of the proposed takeover of Waterbury Hospital by Vanguard Health Systems, a for-profit health care company.

Vanguard is being purchased by Tenet, another for-profit hospital company, and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy recently vetoed legislation affecting the sale of Waterbury Hospital. Both developments require review, the activists say.

The request was made by Tom Swan of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group and Ellen Andrews of the Connecticut Health Policy Project, whose concerns are broader than Vanguard’s purchase by Tenet or Malloy’s veto.

“We think there needs to be a more public debate on the future of hospitals in Connecticut, and as part of that a key question should be whether or not we want an increase in for-profit hospitals,” Swan said.

Technically, they are asking Jepsen to reconsider his determination that Vanguard’s application for a certificate of need was complete.

The bill Malloy vetoed would have created a governance structure for for-profit hospitals modeled after a law passed in 2009 allowing hospitals and health systems to take part in nonprofit "medical foundations” as a way to employ doctors. 

Without it, supporters of the 2009 law said, hospitals would have trouble acquiring physician practices because of federal laws, including an anti-kickback statute.  

The structure is key to a major change under way in Connecticut’s health care landscape as doctors in solo or small practices give up independent practice to join large provider networks run by hospital systems.

“We think the governor did the right thing in vetoing the legislation,” Swan said.

Jepsen could not be immediately reached for comment Friday evening.

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