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Union warns against HCA's purchase of rural Georgia hospital

SEIU, the largest union of healthcare workers in the U.S., is urging the Georgia attorney general to reject HCA Healthcare's proposed acquisition of a rural Georgia hospital. 

Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Healthcare and Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia, Ga., signed a letter of intent for the transaction in October 2019. A public meeting on the sale is slated for March 25.  

Under the deal, which needs approval from the attorney general, HCA would acquire Meadows Regional for $73 million.

In written testimony ahead of the public meeting, Chris Baumann, director of SEIU's Georgia affiliate, argued that the proposed sale price is less than the fair market value of the hospital and that sufficient safeguards have not been included in the terms of the deal to ensure HCA does not cut services at the facility.

Mr. Baumann also said that HCA failed to provide any enforceable commitment to providing charity care for Georgia residents and claims the for-profit hospital operator has a track record of not keeping its promises when it buys hospitals. 

A spokesperson for HCA Healthcare's South Atlantic Division said the union's opposition is "disappointing" but not surprising because it is in negotiation with other HCA Healthcare hospitals. 

The HCA spokesperson also said that the health system has invested heavily in the two hospitals it most recently acquired in Georgia: Memorial Satilla Health in Waycross and  Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah.

At Memorial Health in Savannah, the health system has spent more than $260 million in capital projects in three years, and the health system has committed to investing $40 million  in capital improvements for Memorial Satilla Health, the spokesperson said. 

The HCA spokesperson added that HCA Healthcare's charity care programs at Memorial Satilla and Memorial Health are more generous than the ones that were in place before it acquired them. 

"We are confident that once the attorney general hears about our plans for Meadows Health and the commitments we are making to the community that he will approve this acquisition," the HCA spokesperson said. 

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