Time is money, particularly when it’s the public’s money. And so why is Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley wasting time?
Coakley launched an investigation a year ago into whether the state’s largest health insurance company and its biggest healthcare provider may have illegally colluded to hike the price of health insurance statewide, over the last nine years, noted a Boston Globe report on January 23, 2009.
Still no public word. Why the delay, Christy Mihos, Massachusetts Republican gubernatorial candidate, is asking?
Attorney General Coakley last year “sent formal demands for information to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Partners HealthCare…calling for a detailed account of their contract negotiations,” the Globe reported, citing several sources.
Since 2000, the Globe stated, “Blue Cross has boosted the rate it pays for medical care by Partners doctors and hospitals by 75 percent, dramatically more than the increases given to most other Massachusetts hospitals. Blue Cross now pays $2 billion a year to Partners, parent company of Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's hospitals.”
Coakley's announced investigation last year came just weeks after the Globe Spotlight Team reported that “the leaders of Partners and Blue Cross made a private agreement in 2000 under which Blue Cross would give Partners a significant increase in payments as long as Partners obtained similarly big pay increases from Blue Cross's competitors. The deal—never written down because Partners lawyers feared that the agreement was legally risky—required Blue Cross and its competitors to raise insurance premiums to pay Partners, ushering in a decade of rapidly escalating healthcare costs.”
Partners and Blue Cross officials have insisted they have done nothing wrong. But State Inspector General Gregory W. Sullivan had called the attorney general's probe "historically significant."
Significant, it now appears, for its lack of timely results.
“Even the Big Dig is small potatoes to the cost increases that our HMOs have put upon their customers over the past ten years,” said Mihos. “Double Digit increases each and every year for ten straight years, and these firms are all non-profit or not for profit.”
“The base salaries of their Chief Executive Officers rose at over 20 percent each year,” Christy adds. “Last Year the Boston Globe summed up the conspiracy between the large HMOs and Partners Healthcare to raise prices. It’s all there on the record. If this were a tobacco firm, or a lender, Attorney General Coakley would be all over this. This rip-off is right under her nose. It’s easy to understand why we have the highest healthcare costs in the nation!”