Three South Carolina hospitals unveiled a proposed merger last month that would give them control of more than 80% of the private acute-care market in and around Columbia, S.C.
The hospitals are 583-bed Richland Memorial Hospital and 411-bed Baptist Medical Center, both in Columbia, and 287-bed Lexington Medical Center in adjacent West Columbia. All three are not-for-profit institutions.
The deal would place three of the four hospitals and 86% of the staffed private acute-care beds in a two-county area under common control.
"We will unify in the best interest of our community, and for the good of our fellow man," the hospitals said.
About six weeks before the hospitals announced their transaction, the parent corporation of the market's fourth hospital, 211-bed Providence Hospital in Columbia, inked a joint venture deal with Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., based in Nashville, Tenn.
The three hospitals aren't calling their deal a merger, but they're proposing to be governed by a single board and management team and act as "one integrated healthcare delivery system." They would maintain separate legal ownership and assets.
The hospitals said they intend to work out the final details of their agreement by mid-April.
All three hospitals are highly profitable. In 1994, Richland Memorial earned $27.8 million on total revenues of $281.5 million, according to HCIA in Baltimore. Baptist Medical earned $20.8 million on total revenues of $172.3 million in 1994. And that year, Lexington Medical posted a $9.3 million profit on total revenues of $93.7 million.
A spokesman said the hospitals may seek a state antitrust exemption under South Carolina's 1994 hospital cooperation act, which immunizes hospitals from state antitrust scrutiny if they can prove that the community benefits of their venture outweigh any anti-competitive risks.