Hackensack, Englewood CEOs: Blocked merger harms patient care

A federal judge temporarily blocked Edison, N.J.-based Hackensack Meridian Health's proposed acquisition of Englewood (N.J.) Health. In an Aug. 9 op-ed published in North Jersey, leaders from both health systems said this decision is not in the best interest of their patients or the New Jersey community.

The judge sided with the Federal Trade Commission, which argued that the acquisition could raise the prices and lower the quality of healthcare for local residents, according to an Aug. 6 North Jersey report.

Robert Garrett, the CEO of Hackensack; Frank Fekete, the chair of Hackensack's board of trustees; Warren Geller, the CEO of Englewood; and Richard Lerner, the chair of Englewood's board of trustees, co-authored the op-ed and shared several points on how the merger would have benefited patient care instead of lowering the quality.

Five details:

  1. The merger would have reduced costs, which would have opened up room in its budget for the health system to focus on healthcare access for underserved communities, the authors said. It would have also enabled the unified health system to expand its digital transformation in areas such as EHRs and telehealth. The health system would have made significant investments in analytic tools and artificial intelligence to boost precision medicine.

  2. Another goal the acquisition had was creating additional ambulatory care centers, urgent care offices and physician offices. 

  3. Both organizations began discussing an acquisition in 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic further showed how partnerships can help offset supply shortages, the op-ed said. Hackensack and Englewood marshaled supplies through their networks to meet patient needs and provide supplies to smaller health networks.

  4. The partnership had already been approved by the New Jersey Department of Health and the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. 

  5. "When Hackensack Meridian Health and Englewood Health signed our partnership agreement in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives, it was clear that we would be stronger together to benefit our communities," the authors said. "Today, this goal takes on even more urgency as we work to address the many health and wellness needs of New Jersey and the nation."

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