Hospital of Central CT seeks bigger stake in Plainville endoscopy center

BY John Stearns

The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HOCC) in New Britain is seeking state approval to acquire a majority stake in a Plainville endoscopy center, in a deal valued at $2.3 million, according to an application filed with the state Office of Health Care Access.

HOCC and Central Connecticut Endoscopy Center LLC seek to transfer an additional 44.5 percent ownership of the endoscopy center to HOCC, part of the Hartford HealthCare system, which would increase its ownership to 51 percent.

The application comes on the heels of another Hartford HealthCare facility, The Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, applying earlier this month to acquire a majority stake in a Torrington endoscopy center for $3.3 million.

The applications contain similar language justifying the deals, including at least one identical statement: "Healthcare reform has necessitated a re-alignment of the traditional interactions between hospitals and physicians through the creation of new models to accelerate change and bring higher quality services at a lower cost to patients and payers alike."

The Plainville facility is an outpatient surgery center that provides endoscopy procedures, gastrointestinal screenings and other services related to the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases. It opened in 2005 providing colonoscopies and upper endoscopies and currently operates three procedure rooms, with annual volume exceeding 8,000 procedures, according to filings.

The proposal would yield efficiencies and cost savings to Central Connecticut Endoscopy Center, including anticipated lower costs for medical supplies and drugs, and lower costs for administrative services such as billing, legal services, and marketing, the application says. Greater alignment with HOCC will have an overall positive impact on the health care delivery system with little or no adverse impact on other providers, the parties say.

Eight physicians own 87 percent of the center, HOCC owns 6.5 percent and Bristol Hospital owns 6.5 percent. Under the proposed transfer, HOCC would buy out Bristol Hospital, and the physician owners reduce their stake to 49 percent.

Services currently provided at the endoscopy center will continue to be provided by the same practicing physicians, the filing says. Its location will not change and access to care will increase for Medicaid patients as the center will be subject to Hartford HealthCare's charity care policy.