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25 attorneys general urge court to block New Jersey hospital merger

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A coalition of attorneys general is urging an appellate court to block the merger of Edison, N.J.-based Hackensack Meridian Health and Englewood (N.J.) Health. 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro are leading the multistate coalition that is urging an appeals court to keep intact the Aug. 4 decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to grant a preliminary injunction blocking the merger. 

In its decision, the district court said the merger would result in anticompetitive effects like higher prices and lower-quality care. Less than a month after the court's decision, Hackensack Meridian and Englewood Health filed an appeal.

The coalition argues the appeals court should block the merger because "states have seen a wave of hospital consolidation, resulting in large healthcare systems with substantial market power and the ability to wield it to the detriment of insurers and patients," according to a news release from Mr. Bonta's office.

"In California, we've seen firsthand the effects of a large non-profit healthcare system's anticompetitive practices," Mr. Bonta said. "With COVID-19 continuing to impact communities across the country, affordable and accessible healthcare is more important than ever. We have to get this right."

Hackensack Meridian Health and Englewood Health have said the merger is in the best interest of patients and would allow the organizations to invest in programs and services, achieve cost efficiencies and improve access to care, quality outcomes and affordability of care. 

In addition to Mr. Bonta and Mr. Shapiro, attorneys general from the following states and territories signed the amicus brief: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

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