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Mass. Gov. Healey: Steward Health Care didn’t provide all documents sought by the state

Debt-saddled Steward Health Care has turned over some, but not all, of the financial documents sought by the state, Gov. Maura Healey’s office has said.

The company did not meet the Democratic governor’s Friday deadline to turn over key financial data that Healey’s office had demanded in a scathing letter she sent to the Texas-based company on Tuesday, the Boston Globe reported.

Steward, which operates nine facilities across the state, turned over audited financial documents for several years through 2021, but didn’t turn over those same records for 2022, the newspaper reported. The administration has said the documents are key to evaluating the health system’s financial health.

“The financial information that Steward provided this week continues to be incomplete and insufficient,” Healey spokesperson Karissa Hand told newspaper. Hand did not say what steps Healey might take next to deal with the company.

“What Steward must do from this point forward is clear — complete an orderly transition out of Massachusetts,” Hand said.

By failing to comply, the administration has previously warned Steward, which owes $50 million in back rent, that it could move to freeze admissions to the hospitals, close beds, and transfer patients to other hospitals, MassLive previously reported.

On Thursday, the professional association that represents Massachusetts physicians warned that the potential collapse of any of Steward’s hospitals could disproportionately impact Black and brown Bay State residents who depend on them for services, MassLive previously reported.

Because of at that risk, Massachusetts Medical Association President Dr. Barbara Spivak said the professional association “[appreciated] the administration’s thoughtful focus on regional solutions in planning for continuity of care for patients.”

“This requires coordination by community, regional, and statewide stakeholders to, among other actions, establish processes for the rapid transfer of health records and streamline credentialing procedures for physicians and other care providers who may choose to or be forced to redeploy to other institutions,” Spivak said.

Spivak also expressed the group’s thanks to the 11 members of the Bay State’s Capitol Hill delegation, who signed onto a letter to Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity firm that owned Steward Health Care’s hospitals from 2010 until 2021, seeking information amid “growing concerns” about the hospital system’s increasingly precarious financial plight.

“This pressure appropriately shines a much-needed light on the need for transparency for private equity-backed health care systems in disclosing all operational information that impacts patient care. The Commonwealth must demand via legislation and regulation this information to ensure these systems are prioritizing patients over profit,” Spivak wrote.

Speaking to WBUR’s “Radio Boston” program on Friday, U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who signed the letter, said the health system’s teetering finances represented a “public health crisis for communities across the commonwealth.”

“It’s a damning example of how private equity ownership damages our healthcare system and puts people’s lives at risk,” Pressley, D-7th District, said.

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