State politicians have ramped up pressure on California Attorney General Kamala Harris to block the sale of the Daughters of Charity Health System to for-profit Prime Healthcare Services.
In a letter released last week asking Harris to reject the deal, the 18 California members of Congress cited “Prime's troubled past and regulatory problems and its incompatibility with the historic safety net mission of Daughters.”
They also pointed to government investigations into Prime's alleged overbilling schemes, as well as a number of charges from the National Labor Relations Board related to Prime's dealings with union employees.
Prime countered that the deal has the backing of other unions in the state, including the California Nurses Association and SEIU Local 121RN, Southern California's registered nurses union.
A Change.org petition seeking support for the deal, a link to which is hosted on Prime's corporate website, has more than 14,500 supporters out of 20,000 being sought.
The politically powerful Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West has been one of the chief critics of the deal and has taken its objections to the media and the airwaves.
Harris is currently in the midst of a 105-day review, which would bring the decision timetable into early February. That piece is expected to be the longest and most contentious of the approvals that Prime needs to close the $843 million deal, a price that includes the assumption of $449 million of Daughters' debt.
Daughters CEO Robert Issai has reached out to what the system describes as “the small minority of California lawmakers” who oppose the deal. In an earlier letter, he warned of dire consequences if the deal fails, and that “the threat is real and it is immediate.”
Prime will inject $150 million in capital, preserve pensions, maintain charity-care levels and honor union contracts, Prime Healthcare and the Daughters of Charity have emphasized.