Federal Trade Commission (FTC) & 23 States Oppose Hospital Merger
The Record – November 13, 2021
Some 23 states have voiced opposition to Englewood Health’s proposed merger with Hackensack Meridian Health, filing court papers in a Federal Trade Commission case to say they’ve seen how hospital consolidation raises health care prices without improving the quality of care. The proposed merger has attracted national attention as a test case of the federal government’s power to intervene in the increasing consolidation of the hospital market in the United States.
A coalition of states submitted in their brief that such mergers “leads to increased health care costs in local communities and raise the overall cost of health care”. The coalition’s brief said the wave of hospital consolidation across the country has resulted in large health care systems gaining bargaining power in negotiations with insurers, resulting “in higher process without any substantial improvements in quality for consumers”.
HPAE also knows the intent of the merger is to harmonize all benefits through Hackensack Meridian Health which would drastically reduce our benefits at EHMC. In August a judge granted an injunction that temporarily halted the merger. Hackensack Meridian and Englewood Health appealed the judge’s injunction in September. It is not clear when the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will decide the merger partners’ appeal.
On October 14th a meeting was held between HPAE Leadership and EHMC administration. We discussed the issues brought up by the membership in our survey as well as additional questions and requests for information. A follow-up email was sent on November 3rd , reiterating our request for information and to further bargain over the impact of the electronic scheduling system on the membership. At this writing EHMC has not responded.
As we stated previously, HPAE has filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge (ULP) and Alice Barden, HPAE President has already spoken to the Labor Board Attorney on this matter. We will continue to pursue this matter and keep you informed.
DEFINED BENEFIT PENSION
On November 10th, 2021, HPAE sent a list of inquiries to J. O’Dea regarding the change in administration of the defined benefit plan. We have not received a response as yet. We will continue to pursue this matter and keep you informed
MSICU/CVICU – EHMC is reorganizing these two units into a single ICU. There are many questions, the least of which is the impact on patient care. A ZOOM meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 17th with the nursing staff of the two units.
ENDOSCOPY – staffing issues related to mixed shifts of 8- & 12-hour shifts. Endoscopy managers have mentioned possibly adding 10-hour shifts. HPAE has asked EHMC to verify this and share the data with HPAE as to why this would improve staffing. We await EHMC response.
MEDICAL-SURGICAL UNITS – there are serious turnover and vacancies on all units. We have asked for the turnover on units D4, D6, D7. We await EHMC response.
BERRIE PRE-POST UNIT – again, staffing issues related to mixed shifts. HPAE has presented a compilation of data from unsafe staffing forms that documents the lack of staff and the impact on patient care when 8-hr. staff complete their shift. Also, the number of times the OR had to be put on hold because of a lack of staff due to high nurse vacancy in the Berrie Pre-Post Unit. EHMC is due to respond to these issues.