The future of Bristol Hospital is as part of a large network, CEO Kurt Barwis believes. The small community hospital is in talks to be acquired by Tenet Healthcare, a national for-profit hospital chain partnered with the Yale New Haven Health System, a move that Barwis says would help Bristol Hospital adapt to the rapidly changing demands of health care.
But that vision of the hospital’s future relies in part on the legislature: With the strong encouragement of organized labor, legislators will make expanding the regulatory oversight needed for changes in hospital ownership a top priority this year.
All but one of Connecticut’s hospitals are nonprofit, and Tenet’s potential entrance into the market—the company has deals in the works with Bristol, Waterbury Hospital, and the parent company of Manchester Memorial and Rockville General hospitals—has sparked intense interest and scrutiny from lawmakers.
It’s a debate that pits unions’ concerns against warnings from some in health care that the survival of hospitals could be at stake.
And critics of for-profit hospitals have leverage: a provision of state law that effectively prohibits for-profit hospitals from hiring doctors, a key part of running a health care system.
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