Fung Questions Partners HealthCare’s Expedited Review Request for Acquisition of Care New England

Friday, August 10, 2018
GoLocalProv News Team

GOP candidate for Gov. Allan Fung
Partners HealthCare of Boston -- the New England mega hospital group with an annual budget 50 percent larger than the state of Rhode Island’s -- is seeking an expedited review of its acquisition application.

Partners is seeking to acquire Care New England — Rhode Island’s second-largest hospital group and the implications could be devastating to Rhode Island. Brown President Christine Paxson initially raised serious questions about the deal.

In January, Paxson said “I feel strongly that letting this acquisition go forward would be wrong for Rhode Island and for Brown. Doing so is likely to lead to specialty healthcare shifting to Massachusetts, impeding access to healthcare for Rhode Islanders and especially for members of the state’s underserved communities,” she wrote in a letter to the Brown community that was released to the public and media. More recently, she has reversed position and has signed a deal with the Boston healthcare conglomerate.

Republican front-runner for governor Allan Fung is raising questions about the expedited review request and the potential implications to healthcare costs for Rhode Islanders.

"A study commissioned by the Rhode Island Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner demonstrated that this merger would likely raise commercial health insurance premiums here in the state,” said Cranston Mayor Fung.

“At a time when families are stretched while trying to make ends meet, a thorough review of every detail and its impact on Rhode Island families needs to be made.  This is the largest healthcare merger in Rhode Island, and Partners should not expect special treatment - even if they did throw the Governor a fundraiser,” Fung added.

Partners employs 70,000
On Thursday, lawyers involved in the merger submitted the request to RI Department of Health Officials requesting the expedited review. 

Specifically, Care New England (CNE) and Partners HealthCare have asked the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) for an "expedited review" of a transfer of hospital ownership through the Hospital Conversion Act (HCA) -- but according to the state, an actual HCA application has yet to be filed. 

The move comes just days after Partners, CNE, and Brown University signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding a joint partnership, just months after Brown University President Christina Paxson blistered Partners, a Boston-based healthcare conglomerate and their plan to enter the Rhode Island market via their acquisition of the financial fledgling CNE -- and weeks after Governor Gina Raimondo took in tens of thousands from a Partners-board member hosted fundraiser in Massachusetts. 

According to the RIDOH spokesperson Joseph Wendelken, the state has in the past responded to request for expedited review within two weeks; if granted it would allow for a decision to be made on the HCA application in 90 days, versus the normal 120, meaning that decision on a Partners takeover of CNE could occur as soon as November. 

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