Markey: “Ralph de la Torre, Steward, [Cerberus] Capital Management, and their private equity allies will be remembered for their reckless decisions to put their profits over people’s lives and livelihoods”

Full interview here.

Washington (May 17, 2024) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security, discussed targeting private equity in health care with the Washington Post following Steward Health Care’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and the release of the discussion draft of his legislation, the Health Over Wealth Act. In the interview, Senator Markey spoke to the need to keep Steward-owned hospitals – which serve more than 200,000 in Massachusetts – open to preserve access to care and warned about the for-profit forces that led Steward into bankruptcy, including real estate investment trust Medical Properties Trust. He detailed how outreach from constituents propelled him to ensure that patients and providers were protected from this happening in other cities and at other hospitals. On May 6, 2024, Steward Health Care declared bankruptcy.

Below are excerpts from the Washington Post interview:

“Steward let their health system fall into the control of private equity firms and real estate investment trusts like Medical Properties Trust. Now the bankruptcy court will have to untangle their answers and hopefully make decisions that keep these hospitals open.”

“I held a listening session with health stakeholders, and I also received outreach from constituents all over the state. The feeling was unanimous: We’ve got to do something to protect patients and providers from corporate greed.”

“The goal of my Health Over Wealth Act is to protect patients and providers by mandating the private equity company set aside funding to protect access to care, removing tax breaks that incentivize companies to strip hospital assets, and giving a bigger voice to workers and patients to review and block seats that would impact patient care, access or safety.”

“We’re still at the early stages of this process, but other efforts to take on private equity in health care are also beginning to surface. The reality is that the Steward system itself has 31 hospitals across the country, and many of them are in red states. As a result, I think we really have a chance to make this legislation bipartisan.”

Read the full interview here.

In April 2024, Senator Markey chaired a field hearing in Boston, where he released a discussion draft of his Health over Wealth Act.

Earlier this week, Senators Markey and Sanders wrote to United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra requesting that HHS stand ready to provide any support necessary to help ensure that no one loses access to care as a result of Steward Health Care’s gross financial mismanagement.

In January 2024, Senators Markey and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) led the Massachusetts delegation in a letter to Steward pressing them on their financial position, the status of their facilities in Massachusetts, and their plans to ensure the communities they serve are not abandoned. On March 7, Senators Markey and Warren sent a letter to Dr. de la Torre requesting financial information, including executive compensation, financial statements, Steward’s arrangement with Medical Properties Trust, repayment of debts to Massachusetts, Steward merger and acquisition activity, and loans from Brigade, Soundpoint, and other lenders in 2023.