The First Reactions To Steward Health Care Bankruptcy


Above, rebuilding Norwood Hospital has been on hold due to Steward's financial problems.

Reactions flooded in Monday in Massachusetts after Steward Health Care's overnight bankruptcy filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Health care insiders say they've never seen a comparable situation in the Bay State, and Gov. Maura Healey held a press conference to try to assure patients and employees that they can continue to get care at eight Steward hospitals in the state.

The situation is complicated by the fact that Steward has operations in many states. The company is based in Dallas and operates more than 30 hospitals across Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Here's a sampling of local reaction:

"I am disappointed today to announce that Steward Health Care has filed for bankruptcy.

"I want to assure members of our communities who rely on area Steward-owned hospitals like Morton Hospital in Taunton and Saint Anne's Hospital in Fall River that hospitals will remain open and that patients should continue to seek care at these facilities.

"The state has taken steps in recent months to ensure continued access to care at Steward facilities by placing Department of Public Health monitors on-site in hospitals to monitor patient care. A webpage,, and a call center, which will be launched later today, will also serve as a resource for those in the community with questions and concerns.

"Steward's presence in Southeastern Massachusetts and the impact a potential bankruptcy would have on all hospitals in the area was one of the issues discussed in the Senate Post Audit & Oversight hearing I led last month to understand how officials were preparing for uncertainties surrounding the area's healthcare landscape. In the wake of the hearing, state officials announced the creation of an incident command system last week to lead emergency operation plans to enable better coordination across industry stakeholders and ensure that hospitals stay open for patients to keep receiving the acute care they need.

"I want to commend the leadership of the Healey-Driscoll Administration, Executive Office of Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh, Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Robert Goldstein and other state leaders, in their continuous efforts to navigate this crisis.

"I also want to thank the Massachusetts Nurses Association and SEIU 1199 for supporting the ongoing efforts of nurses, doctors, administrators, and other staff who are ensuring access to care by keeping facilities like Morton Hospital operating amid these challenging times."

-- Sen. Marc Pacheco of Taunton

"Steward Health Care's filing for bankruptcy protection, although hardly unexpected, will understandably cause concern for patients, physicians, health care teams, and staff at its Massachusetts facilities.

"While the company says that it does not expect this development to affect its day-to-day operations, patients and the health care workforce deserve assurance that every effort is being made to reduce the potential interruption of care. Any disruption to continuity of care brings a serious risk to patients, especially those from our most vulnerable and underserved communities who depend upon Steward facilities for care, and those with chronic illness. Steward is ethically obligated to be transparent and timely in communication with patients, physicians, and all members of the health care team as this process evolves.

"The Massachusetts Medical Society commends the Healey-Driscoll administration for its foresight in recognizing that Steward Health Care was in perilous financial standing and for proactively working to develop contingency plans that center the imperatives of patient safety and access to the highest quality of care. We are appreciative of our state and federal legislators who continue to study and consider the role and risk of private equity-backed health care in the Commonwealth.

"The Medical Society will continue to work with stakeholders and to bring forward the voices of physicians and patients as the state navigates the situation and develops strategies for sustainable solutions that center patients, not profit. Health care workers and patients should continue to report any concerns about safety or quality of care to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health."

-- Mass. Medical Society President Dr. Barbara Spivak

"Steward CEO Dr. Ralph de la Torre and his private equity allies put the Massachusetts health care system at risk when they made reckless decisions that put investor profit over people's lives and livelihoods, ultimately leading to this bankruptcy. Dr. de la Torre, Steward Health Care, and Cerberus Capital Management will be remembered not for improving access to care or saving the non-profit hospitals they purchased, but for their unforgivable abdication of responsibility to the people they promised to serve.

"Steward-owned hospitals remain open, and the health care providers in them are working hard to provide the best possible care to their patients. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is keeping a watchful eye on quality of care, and I am working with the Healey-Driscoll administration to ensure patients continue to get the care they need and deserve.

"Despite the overwhelming evidence demonstrating corporate greed's role in this bankruptcy, Steward, Cerberus, and Medical Properties Trust will do everything in their power to escape blame and accountability, as will other private equity firms running the same game of greed and mismanagement at hospitals across the United States. We cannot let them get away with it. I will continue to fight for accountability, transparency, and protections for patients and providers. My Health over Wealth Act would put essential guardrails in place to protect communities against the negative consequences of for-profit forces, including private equity, and strengthen the health system to prevent what happened with Steward from happening again."

-- U.S. Sen. Edward Markey

"Steward Health Care has failed the tens of thousands of patients and workers it serves in Massachusetts and across the country, and Steward filing for bankruptcy today is another damning indictment of our for-profit healthcare system in America. This is a public health crisis for our communities—especially for the vulnerable patients who receive their care at Carney Hospital and St. Elizabeth's in Dorchester—and we must do everything we can to keep Steward hospitals open and care accessible. I’m grateful to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for prioritizing an orderly transfer of ownership that protects our patients and providers, and I won’t stop fighting to hold Steward executives accountable for their gross incompetence that has put lives in the Massachusetts 7th at risk."

-- Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley

"Steward Health Care's bankruptcy is a direct consequence of Wall Street private equity vultures looting our health care system. My first priority is keeping these Massachusetts hospitals open, protecting patients, and supporting frontline health care workers. The next step should be a serious reexamination of whether we should allow private equity in health care. Steward is just the latest example of private equity endangering communities, and I will be introducing new legislation in the Senate to hold corporate actors accountable when they loot our hospitals to boost their profits.

"After years of disastrous decisions, CEO Ralph de la Torre should be fired, along with Steward's entire executive team. Regulators need to seek all possible means to claw back the riches sucked out of these hospitals. No matter where they try to shift the blame, Steward executives are responsible for this crisis. I will be closely monitoring this bankruptcy process, and I commend Governor Healey, Attorney General Campbell, and Secretary Walsh for their leadership."

-- U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren

"With the news of Steward Health Care's bankruptcy filing, the HPC is working to understand the implications of the Chapter 11 process on the current proposed sale of the physicians to OptumCare and any other related changes in ownership that may be filed in the future (e.g., Steward’s Massachusetts hospitals). We remain in close communication with the Healey-Driscoll Administration, the Attorney General's Office, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and the Massachusetts health care community about coordinated next steps.

"The HPC has begun examining the proposed sale of Stewardship Health, Inc. and Steward Health Care Network, Inc. to OptumCare, based on available information, however, the parties have still not submitted key required information and many details are still outstanding. The material change notice (MCN) filing is not complete until the HPC receives the definitive agreement governing the transaction and other requested information and documents which are necessary to conduct a preliminary review of potential impacts on health care costs and market functioning."

-- Health Policy Commission Executive Director David Seltz

"As the state and our federal delegation work overtime to respond to Steward's bankruptcy filing, the most important thing for patients and families to know is that their hospitals remain open and ready to care for you. There are thousands of dedicated physicians, nurses, and support personnel at Steward facilities who are working around the clock to make sure every single patient can get the care they need, and today’s filing does not change that.

"It's clearer than ever that while Steward leaders spent the last decade publicly touting their hospitals as affordable community options, they deployed a devastating private equity business model behind closed doors focused on extracting every last cent of profit from facilities that serve working class communities. Ralph de la Torre and Steward executives paid themselves hundreds of millions of dollars, and they did so by racking up debt they knew they could never repay, even if it meant the closure of vital community hospitals in gateway cities across the Commonwealth. They should not be allowed to wash their hands of this crisis they created, and if that takes legislative action at the state or federal level, we will be ready to act.

"As we continue to confront this crisis, I'm grateful to Governor Healey, Lieutenant Governor Driscoll, and Secretary Walsh who have worked tirelessly to prepare for this moment. Together, we are committed to doing everything possible to keep our community hospitals open and serving patients, and to emerge from this crisis stronger than before."

-- Congresswoman Lori Trahan of Westford

"As Steward Health Care begins to reorganize under bankruptcy protection, I have the utmost confidence in Secretary Kate Walsh and the Healey Administration's preparedness for this scenario, and in their commitment to preserving access to care. I also have every belief in the ability of our hospital leaders to support the state’s response, and in the health care providers who will continue to care for each and every patient that arrives at a Steward hospital in the months to come, regardless of what may be happening at a Texas bankruptcy court. It is the Legislature's responsibility to ensure that what happened with Steward Health Care never happens again. Next week, the House will take up comprehensive legislation to address gaps in our regulatory process that Steward exploited, to stabilize the health care system, and to address the rising cost of health care."

-- House Speaker Ron Mariano of Quincy

"The Senate’s immediate concern remains the quality and continuity of care for the thousands of patients within the Steward system—as well as the dedicated health care workers on the ground that continue to provide that care. It's critical that this bankruptcy does not lead to a disruption in care for thousands of residents who depend on these hospitals.

"I'm confident that the Healey Administration is paying careful attention to this crisis, and look forward to working with them and our partners in the House to take the steps necessary to prevent the conditions within our health care system that would cause another acute situation like the one facing Steward today."

-- Senate President Karen Spilka of Ashland

"The Massachusetts Association of Health Plans and our member plans understand the uncertainty raised by Steward Health Care's action today to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. However, this filing does not mean that the system's hospitals, medical centers, or physician groups will close; patients can continue to receive care at all Steward facilities. MAHP member plans will continue to provide coverage at Steward facilities. If any health plan member has immediate concerns regarding coverage or access, they should contact their health plan's member services department for further assistance."

-- Lora Pellegrini, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans

"Today, Steward Health Care moved forward with a bankruptcy filing under federal law – an action for which the Healey-Driscoll administration has been preparing. Steward hospitals remain open, and patients should not hesitate to seek care. The Healey-Driscoll administration is working with Steward and any potential partners to support an orderly transfer of ownership that protects access to care, preserves jobs and stabilizes our health care system."

-- Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh

"Steward Healthcare’s declaration of Chapter 11 bankruptcy and its impact on the numerous communities currently served by the Steward-owned hospitals in the Commonwealth is of concern to MNA, 1199SEIU and other members of the Our Community Our Hospital coalition. The potential loss of any of these facilities will have devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of residents from the South Shore to southern New Hampshire. However, Steward going through the process of reorganization provides an opportunity for other stakeholders to take long-awaited action and center the voices of caregivers and patients.

"The administration, the legislature, the healthcare industry, and all those who value the health of our communities should immediately take whatever steps are needed to ensure the preservation of these facilities and the safe transition to more stable and responsible not for profit ownership. Inaction would worsen health inequities, create hospital deserts, and weaken the entire healthcare infrastructure for all patients in Massachusetts.

"One only need look at what has happened in Southeastern Mass with the loss of Norwood Hospital and Brockton Hospital, where the influx of patients has stressed the region’s already overburdened emergency departments, to see what lies in store with the loss of these other facilities. No amount of contingency planning between the DPH and hospital executives can stem the inevitable and unnecessary injury and death that would result from a failure to preserve these resources.

"As such, the bankruptcy declaration should only embolden the administration, the legislature, the healthcare industry, and all those who value the health of our communities to immediately take whatever steps are needed to ensure the preservation of these facilities and the safe transition to more stable and responsible not for profit ownership.

"Additionally, we must commend the dedicated and compassionate caregivers, healthcare workers and physicians who throughout this grueling process have stayed the course. They will continue to provide desperately needed care under various circumstances. As this process unfolds, the voices of the patients, the workforce, and the community must be heard, and they must have a seat at the table as decisions about the future of health care in these communities are made."

-- Joint Statement of 1199SEIU and the Mass. Nurses Association

"Steward Health Care’s financial mismanagement has put already underserved patients in the communities it serves at risk by creating instability in their hospital system. More than two-thirds of Steward’s Massachusetts patients receive coverage through state or federal government programs. Declaring bankruptcy gives the Commonwealth the chance to find new leadership for these institutions so that we can ensure that everyone has access to the health care they need. The state and all key stakeholders must continue to swiftly mobilize to ensure that patients are not forced to pay the price for Steward’s financial mismanagement.

"Declaring bankruptcy does not mean these hospitals are closing their doors. Health Care For All is working with the state and stakeholders to ensure that no one in these communities is forced to forgo the care they need.

"Health Care For All remains committed to working with the state and stakeholder groups to ensure the lessons learned from this process are not repeated with any new ownership, as patient care must be the top priority."

-- Amy Rosenthal, Executive Director of Health Care For All

I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified