The Boston Globe | By Adam Vaccaro
October 20, 2016
Massachusetts health officials Thursday gave final approval to Boston Children’s Hospital for a $1 billion expansion, dealing a blow to opponents who argued that project would undercut the state’s efforts to contain medical costs.
The vote by the Massachusetts Public Health Council, an appointed board of mostly industry professionals that oversees state health rules and medical projects, was expected, after both Governor Charlie Baker and staff at the state Department of Health had signaled their support. Also earlier Thursday, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh added his voice to those backing Children’s plan build an 11-story building at its Longwood campus and open an outpatient center in Brookline.
The council turned aside a request from a group of activists for a last-minute reprieve of the small outdoor garden that would be demolished. The Friends of Prouty Garden has for months been trying to block the project because it would demolish a long-standing outdoor refuge for sick children and their families at the hospital.
The Friends group held a rally in front of the State House before Thursday’s vote, and separately have sued to stop Children’s in Suffolk Superior Court.
But the debate over the expansion has morphed well beyond the fate of a cherished green space. The project has became the latest flash point in the state’s long struggle to control rising health care costs. Some health insurers and competing hospitals warned the addition will drive up medical spending because Children’s, one of the top-rated pediatric care-givers in the country, is also the most expensive in Massachusetts. A state watchdog agency, the Health Policy Commission, issued similar warnings.