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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Orders Updates to Hospital Merger Process

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has directed the state Department of Health to update the certificate of need process for hospital mergers and affiliations.

Gov. Inslee wrote a letter to Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington. The ACLU of Washington was one of 11 civil rights and healthcare advocacy organizations that asked Gov. Inslee in June to enact a six-month moratorium of hospital mergers in the state.

The groups argued the recent spate of hospital transactions in the state, such as the potential affiliation between Seattle-based University of Washington Medicine and Vancouver, Wash.-based PeaceHealth, could lead to a loss of healthcare access.

In his letter, Gov. Inslee said his administration has not identified any deals in which state residents have been "denied access as a result of these mergers and affiliations," but the state will closely examine and investigate many deals "on behalf of the public interest."

However, he said Washington's current CON process needs "to be updated and modernized in light of healthcare reform." Although Gov. Inslee said he doesn't have the legal authority to issue the six-month moratorium, the DOH will look at ways to make hospital mergers more transparent and ensure residents have access to essential care.

"Considering the importance of healthcare reform, CON reforms are necessary because some affiliations, corporate restructuring, mergers and other arrangements result in outcomes similar to the traditional methods of sales, purchasing and leasing of hospitals," Gov. Inslee wrote. "The CON process should be applied based on the effect of these transactions on the accessibility of health services, cost containment and quality."

More Articles on Hospital Mergers:
Pennsylvania Attorney General to Watch UPMC-Altoona Merger Closely
University Hospitals Pursues Another Merger Partner: Parma Hospital
Moody's: Tenet-Vanguard Merger Will Hurt Nonprofit Hospitals

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