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North Carolina AG demands more details on proposed UNC Health Care-Atrium merger

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein wrote a letter Feb. 15 to the chief executives of Chapel Hill, N.C.-based UNC Health Care and Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health demanding additional information regarding their proposed merger.

Here are six things to know about the situation.

1. In the letter, Mr. Stein claims since he met with executives last August, officials have not provided the AG's office with enough additional information about the proposed transaction's effect on consumers.

"Experience cautions that large-scale health system mergers are often not in the public interest. The state and the public have a right to know the facts behind your proposal. Therefore, we seek information to assess whether the proposed combination would increase prices for healthcare, reduce choices available to patients and payers, or otherwise harm North Carolina patients, North Carolina businesses, or the state itself," Mr. Stein wrote.

2. The state AG's office also sent a civil investigative demand to both health systems Feb. 15 requesting more information about the proposed deal. While the deal does not require approval from the state AG's office, Mr. Stein can sue to block the deal from continuing.

3. The deal, which UNC Health Care and Atrium Health, formerly Carolinas HealthCare System, are still negotiating, will create one of the nation's largest health systems, comprising 60 hospitals and 90,000 employees, according to The Charlotte Observer.

4. While the health systems have previously said the proposed combination would improve patients' access to care and would not raise costs, several organizations claim consolidation would have the opposite effect. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state's largest insurer, said last month it would not support the proposed merger.

5. UNC Health Care told The Charlotte Observer officials plan to work with the state AG's office and provide the requested information.

"UNC Health Care's goals in pursuing this partnership are to improve the health of all North Carolina's citizens, increase access to much-needed medical care and reduce rising costs," the health system said in a statement.

6. Atrium Health said in a statement to the publication, "We have received the request for information. … This is expected for the complex and transformative combination we have been working on, and we look forward to answering their questions, since we both want what is best for the citizens of North Carolina. … Our goal remains as it always has — to improve the health for North Carolinians by increasing access and affordability, advancing clinical care and contributing to our state's economic vibrancy."

More articles on transactions and valuations:
Presence Health inks definitive agreement to join Ascension
Greenville legislators introduce bill to sell Greenville Health System
State gives unanimous final approval for proposed Partners, Mass. Eye and Ear acquisition

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