Boston-based Partners HealthCare has abandoned plans to acquire South Shore Hospital in light of a court ruling spiking its deal with state regulators to address antitrust concerns. Partners will also hold off on acquiring two other suburban hospitals covered in that agreement.
Partners revealed the change of plans in a document filed in state court Tuesday. Partners and South Shore have decided not to proceed with the acquisition of South Shore Hospital in suburban Weymouth, Mass., according to the filing. The state will continue to evaluate Partners' proposed acquisition of Hallmark Health System, which operates hospitals in the Boston suburbs of Medford and Melrose, according to the court filing.
“We have listened and heard the public concerns, and in conjunction with the leadership at SSH, we have decided that the best approach is not to proceed with our plan to bring SSH into Partners,” Partners President and CEO Dr. Gary Gottlieb said in a letter to colleagues Tuesday.
Partners and the leadership of Hallmark also “agree that it is time to take a pause as we reflect on next steps. We will continue our conversations about how best to work together in the future,” Gottlieb said.
South Shore President and CEO Richard Aubut said the organization's board of directors made the decision after “careful consideration.”
“The prospect of costly and prolonged litigation to advance the merger would not be in the best interests of our patients, our providers, our colleagues and our community,” Aubut said in a statement.
South Shore will move forward with creating a more comprehensive and integrated health system, Aubut said. South Shore will build upon its hospital and home care programs to deliver community-based preventative and primary care, he said. A South Shore spokeswoman declined to comment further on South Shore's plans.
Hallmark Health System said in a statement that it “remains committed to working with Partners HealthCare and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to manage the growing costs of healthcare.”
“Our communities have expressed strong support for this affiliation, which would enhance options for high quality, lower cost care in north suburban Boston,” Hallmark said in the statement.
A Massachusetts judge decided in January not to approve an agreement between Partners and former state Attorney General Martha Coakley to resolve an antitrust investigation into the deal. The agreement would have allowed Partners—already the largest health system in Massachusetts—to acquire the three hospitals in exchange for not raising prices beyond the rate of inflation through 2020.
After that ruling, Massachusetts' new attorney general, Maura Healey, threatened to sue Partners if it continued to pursue South Shore.
Healey released a statement Tuesday praising Partners' decision to back away from South Shore. She also pledged to continue to review Partners' plans to acquire Hallmark.
“We appreciate the thoughtful process that Partners engaged in while making this important decision, and believe it is the right choice for Partners and the Commonwealth,” Healey said.
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