Mass General Brigham this week halted controversial plans to build outpatient care centers in three suburbs outside of Boston.

MGB was seeking to spend nearly $2.3 billion on expansions and improvements at two of its existing hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, and on the creation of three new ambulatory sites in Westborough, Westwood and Woburn. However, a 75-page analysis released in January by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, an independent state agency, found that the expansions would increase commercial health care spending by at least $46 to $90.1 million, resulting in higher commercial insurance premiums for residents and businesses, drawing ire from competitors in the health care field and from state officials.

In the past two years, multiple health care organizations, including the Massachusetts Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers and Health Care For All, as well as Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office have stepped forward to criticize the proposals, similarly arguing that the new outpatient care centers, situated in more affluent communities, would drive up costs for patients.

“The proposed MGB expansion sites are targeted to predominantly white, higher-income communities that have a disproportionate share of commercially insured patients,” Health Care For All wrote in a letter to DPH in June 2021. “In contrast, the locations are not easily accessible to residents of lower-income communities who already face barriers to health care.”

“As a result, the new MGB sites would likely draw commercially insured patients from the target communities away from the local lower-cost and safety-net providers, thus removing a key revenue stream that helps to subsidize patients who are insured by public programs such as MassHealth or Medicare, or who are uninsured,” the organization added.

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