Beacon Hill takes aim at Steward Health Care hospital crisis

House lawmakers voted 152-1 to ban the type of lease agreements between hospitals and health care real estate investment trusts that Beacon Hill legislators argue helped push the distressed Steward Health Care system into bankruptcy.

In passing a wide-ranging health care bill Thursday, representatives took their first shot at responding with policy to a crisis that has the potential to upend care for thousands of residents across Massachusetts. Lawmakers behind the bill have argued it is one of the most significant health care reforms in a decade.

State Rep. John Lawn, a Watertown Democrat who co-chairs the Health Care Financing Committee, said the proposal will make sure that “mistakes of today are not repeated in the future” and close loopholes in the regulatory process that were “exploited by bad actors.”

“This bill will increase transparency of hospital and other provider financing by requiring disclosure of parent company private equity and for=profit involvement,” Lawn said. “Steward has fought state regulators for years not to disclose basic information that all other hospitals in the commonwealth share. This legislation will give state regulators new enforcement powers to make sure providers comply with reporting requirements.”

The legislation bars the Department of Public Health from issuing licenses to acute care hospitals if they are leasing the land on which their main campus is located — or the area where a majority of inpatient beds are located — from a health care real estate investment trust.

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