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Partners, Care New England look to fast-track merger review

Boston-based Partners HealthCare and Providence, R.I.-based Care New England have asked Rhode Island health officials to expedite their review of the systems' proposed merger, citing Care New England's ongoing fiscal issues, according to Rhode Island Public Radio.

Under an expedited review, the Rhode Island Department of Health would have to review the proposed merger application within 90 days instead of the usual 120 days. The request also allows the health systems to submit less documentation and eliminates the requirement to hold  a public hearing on the merger application. However, state law ensures a period of public comment for individuals affected by the merger to voice their concern or support.

While there is no deadline for state health officials to decide whether to grant an expedited review, a state health department spokesperson told Rhode Island Public Radio officials typically respond to such requests within two weeks.

The deal, which Partners and Care New England announced in January and formalized in May, must still obtain regulatory approval from health officials in Massachusetts.

Under state law, the hospital system must show it qualifies for expedited review by meeting certain criteria of a distressed hospital. Rhode Island Public Radio reports Care New England saw first- and second-quarter losses in fiscal year 2018 of $33.6 million and $40.7 million, respectively.

Earlier this week, Partners and Care New England signed a memorandum of understanding with Providence-based Brown University to ensure the university was involved in discussions to improve care in Rhode Island. Brown previously voiced its concern over Partners' proposed acquisition of Care New England and reportedly approached Providence-based Lifespan to form a competing bid. However, Lifespan rejected the deal.

Partners and Care New England, which approached Lifespan about a potential affiliation in February, said Aug. 8 the three organizations are still in discussions.

More articles on transactions and valuations:
Brown University joins Partners, Care New England deal
Hackensack Meridian, Carrier Clinic to merge: 3 notes
8 recent healthcare partnerships and transactions

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