Sen. Warren proposes jail time for ‘corporate greed’ in health care

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation Tuesday morning aimed at warding off future cases of “corporate greed” in the health care landscape, like the kind that her office says led to Steward Health Care filing for bankruptcy.

Standing across the street from Steward’s St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, Warren outlined her “Corporate Crimes Against Health Care” bill that would establish new penalties and guardrails for health care executives who endanger patient safety and access to care -- including a new criminal penalty that could send executives to prison for up to six years.

That punishment would be for those who “loot health care entities like nursing homes and hospitals, if that looting results in a patient’s death,” according to Warren’s office.

The provision appears to take aim at the financial management of Steward under the helm of CEO Ralph de la Torre. Steward sold the land its Massachusetts hospitals sit on in 2016, a transaction that has since saddled the system with massive debt as executives struggled to keep up with payments to the landlord, Medical Properties Trust, and to vendors.

Warren’s proposal would authorize state attorneys general to claw back all compensation to private equity executives within a 10-year period, spanning before or after an acquired health care provider “experiences serious, avoidable financial difficulties due to that looting,” according to the senator’s office.

The bill also lays out more transparent reporting requirements for health care providers that receive federal funding, among other provisions.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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