Westborough sends letter supporting Mass General Brigham expansion

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By Dan Miller, Contributing Writer

A rendering shows the proposed ambulatory care clinic that MGB hopes to build in Westborough. (Photo/Courtesy Mass General Brigham)

WESTBOROUGH – A letter reinforcing the Westborough Select Board’s support of the proposed Massachusetts General Brigham expansion is on its way to members of the state House and Senate.

The board is on record supporting the plan, which calls for Mass General Brigham to locate a new 62,000-square-foot outpatient medical facility in an office park at 1400 West Park Drive just off Route 9.

But the board decided back in December to send this reminder to its representatives in Boston following legislation passed by the state House of Representative that the board saw as impeding the proposed expansion.

Westborough Select Board finalizes letter

The primary audience of the letter are members of the state Senate, whom the board hopes will take up the House legislation this month to either amend or overturn it.

The board’s chief concern is the House legislation being retroactive to the Mass General Brigham proposal – fueling the board’s concerns that the House legislation is aimed at derailing the proposed MGB expansion, which is opposed by nearby UMass Memorial Health Care.

Board Chairman Allen Edinberg first proposed the letter on Dec. 14. It underwent changes, though, after Select Board member Patrick Welch disagreed with Edinberg’s characterization in the letter of written testimony that state Attorney General Maura Healey’s gave regarding the expansion as part of the Determination of Need process.

Edinberg contended that Healey’s testimony was “one-sided” and based on UMass’ position against the MGB expansion.

He had previously said in that Dec. 14 meeting that the testimony was “a betrayal of the public trust” that was “personally politically motivated and somewhat inappropriate.”

Welch asked for changes at a meeting on Dec. 21 after reviewing a draft of the letter.

“I feel she did what her office was requiring her to do legally under state law,” he said. “I am not comfortable with that attorney general paragraph as written.”

During its Dec. 21 meeting, board held off sending the letter to allow Edinberg and Welch to get together and iron out their differences regarding the draft language.

Three weeks later, during the board’s Jan. 11 meeting, it then voted 5-0 to send the final version of the letter.

The board did not make public the final version of the letter during the meeting, either before or after the vote. 

The only comments made included Edinberg suggesting the letter also go to the state Senate president in addition to the members of Westborough’s state Senate delegation.

Westborough had previously been part of Sen. Jamie Eldridge’s district. Effective in 2022, though, the town is now being represented by Sen. Michael Moore following redistricting after the 2020 census.

Board member Shelby Marshall also proposed sending the letter to members of Westborough’s state House delegation, as the letter was prompted by the board opposing the legislation passed by the House.

Letter also follows publication of cost analysis

Supporters of the MGB proposal most recently celebrated late last year when a long-awaited Independent Cost Analysis stated that the proposed expansion would not lead to an increase in the cost of the kinds of services provided at a completed MGB facility in Westborough. 

“Mass General Brigham’s effort to address two important issues for our patients in Massachusetts: provide greater access to care and reduce their costs is confirmed today by the Independent Cost Analysis,” MGB said in a statement at the time.

Opponents raised concerns, however, arguing that the analysis, which is part of the state’s Determination of Need process, was too narrowly focused. 

They continued to note fears of increased health care costs brought about by an MGB expansion.

“The ICA inadequately examines long-term implications for the entire state and leaves residents of the Commonwealth with an incomplete picture of how this ill-advised proposal would alter the state’s healthcare landscape,” a spokesperson for the Coalition to Protect Community Care told State House News.