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Cabell Huntington agrees to compromise on proposed St. Mary's merger, end legal fight

Cabell Huntington (W.Va.) Hospital officials said Tuesday the hospital has agreed to work with one of the strongest opponents of the hospital's proposed merger with Huntington, W.Va.-based St. Mary's Medical Center, ending a pending four-year legal challenge, according to The Herald-Dispatch.

Steel of West Virginia, a Huntington-based steel producer, has been one of the strongest opponents of the proposed merger between Cabell Huntington and St. Mary's Medical Center. The company filed an appeal with the West Virginia Supreme Court arguing the deal would create a healthcare monopoly in the area and raise costs for patients.

Steel of West Virginia officials told The Herald-Dispatch the basis of the settlement agreement rests on Cabell Huntington officials' promise to work with the company and other area businesses to improve overall workforce health and reduce incidents of hospitalization, the report states.

The West Virginia Supreme Court was expected to issue a ruling on Steel of West Virginia's appeal Jan. 23. In the appeal, the company argued the West Virginia Health Care Authority violated the law by failing to consider "superior alternatives" to the proposed merger and failing to obtain information on other prospective bidders before granting the institutions a cooperative agreement. Such an agreement was necessary to proceed with the transaction prior to an amended 2016 law that exempted teaching hospitals like Cabell Huntington from having to obtain a cooperative agreement.

The state supreme court was also expected to hear an appeal by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey regarding a trial court decision that ruled he must turn over documentation requested by Steel of West Virginia regarding the proposed merger. However, the deal was voluntarily dismissed Tuesday following an agreement between the AG's office, St. Mary's Medical Center and Steel of West Virginia, according to the report.

The proposed transaction is pending approval by the Vatican, as St. Mary's is owned by a Catholic organization.

To read the full report, click here.

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