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Group takes out full-page ads decrying sale of SSM Health hospitals

A nonprofit organization called "A Coalition for Choice" in Missouri has taken out full-page ads in various newspapers to "oppose healthcare monopolies" like the potential sale of two St. Louis-based SSM Health hospitals to Columbia, Mo.-based MU Health Care, according to the News Tribune.

Here are four things to know:

1. The nonprofit organization has taken out ads in the News Tribune and other publications to notify the public of the potential increase in healthcare costs in instances of hospital consolidation. The group formed after MU Health Care announced its intention in August to purchase two hospitals: SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital-Jefferson City (Mo.) and SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital-Audrain in Mexico, Mo.

"If MU Health successfully acquires SSM St. Mary's Hospital, evidence shows that quality of care will likely decrease and jobs may be lost among Mid-Missouri's largest employers," the coalition said in a news release obtained by the News Tribune.

2. The coalition's news release and its ad in the Nov. 24 edition of the News Tribune, said MU Health is currently lobbying to pass legislation allowing the system to merge its affiliate hospital, Jefferson City-based Capital Region Medical Center, with SSM St. Mary's Hospital-Jefferson City, creating one consolidated system.

"Multiple studies demonstrate the negative impact of hospital consolidation," the group said. "The ultimate result of this merger will be significantly higher healthcare costs, fewer jobs, fewer doctors, lower quality outcomes and less healthcare innovation."

3. SSM Health and MU Health Care released statements to the News Tribune about the potential acquisition, though neither system offered additional details regarding the deal's timeline.

"MU Health Care is committed to improving access to affordable, quality care for all those we serve. Transferring ownership of St. Mary's Hospital-Jefferson City and St. Mary's Hospital-Audrain to MU Health Care will allow us to better integrate the care provided within these communities to ensure patients have access to a full continuum of care and the advanced clinical services of a premier academic health system close to home. It also furthers our efforts to provide strong support to rural communities that are facing increasing shortages of primary care physicians," MU Health Care said.

4. SSM Health said in a separate statement to the News Tribune that the potential deal will "also create new opportunities for MU Health Care to train more physicians, nurses and other health professionals to care for patients throughout Missouri — especially those in underserved, rural areas."

To access the full report, click here.

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