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North Carolina bill seeking greater transparency on healthcare M&A pulled

A bill that could transform the legal landscape for healthcare mergers and acquisitions in North Carolina was pulled from committee and will therefore not likely be discussed further in the state legislature's current session.

A source with healthcare operations in the state told Becker's that HB 737 had been withdrawn after a House hearing May 23.

The bill had initially been introduced amid concern hefty health system transactions were being completed in the state with limited regulatory oversight. The attorney general in North Carolina, Josh Stein, had expressed frustration over what he sees as limited transparency with such transactions, especially the relative lack of accountability regarding possible impacts on local communities.

Such recent transactions include the December merger of Charlotte, N.C.-based Atrium Health and Downers Grove, Ill.- and Milwaukee-based Advocate Aurora Health to form a joint entity, Advocate Health.

Atrium Health also wants to build a new hospital in Greensboro, a move opposed by Greensboro-based Cone Health.

Neither Atrium Health nor Cone Health commented on the withdrawal of the bill.

"We're continuing to work with legislators and stakeholders to improve the bill to protect healthcare access and quality of care for North Carolinians," a spokesperson for the attorney general's office told Becker's.

If such a bill were to pass into law, it could be transformational, an April 27 article in The National Law Review said.

"HB 737 represents a major shift in North Carolina health policy," the article said. "The time, costs, and potential penalties are significant and are plainly intended to discourage hospital merger activity."

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