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Massachusetts AG to renegotiate Partners HealthCare agreement

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is renegotiating a settlement with Boston-based Partners HealthCare that would allow the system to complete its proposed acquisitions of South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, Mass., and Hallmark Health System in Melrose, Mass., under certain conditions, according to a report from The Boston Globe.

Ms. Coakley's office didn't indicate which changes it would try to make to the agreement. Under the original tentative settlement, Partners would have to limit future price increases across its network to the rate of general inflation through 2020. The settlement would also limit Partners' joint contracting with commercial payers. Ms. Coakley — who is also a Democratic gubernatorial candidate — has faced criticism from political rivals, economists and other healthcare organizations for striking an agreement with Partners rather than suing the system to stop the transactions, according to the report.

In July, Massachusetts Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet L. Sanders ruled the settlement's court approval would be delayed because of the Health Policy Commission's initial report on the Partners-Hallmark merger. The next hearing concerning the settlement is Sept. 29.

The decision to renegotiate follows a final report from the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission finding that Partners' takeover of Hallmark would be anticompetitive and raise spending on medical care by $15.5 million to $23 million per year. Partners and Hallmark has said the merger will actually decrease medical costs by $21 million annually over five years because of more efficient care delivery.


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