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Partners, Care New England extend merger talks

Partners HealthCare,  based in  Boston, and Care New England Health System, based in  Providence, have extended their merger talks through Jan. 31

Massachusetts’s largest health system and Rhode Island’s second-largest announced  last April that they were working on a deal for Partners to acquire financially stressed Care New England. But their negotiations have taken longer than initially expected.

Part of the process is that Care New England has been closing down inpatient operations at Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, in Pawtucket, a huge money loser for Care New England.\

To read  more, please hit this link.




Partners holds up takeover of Care New England


The proposed Partners HealthCare takeover of Care New England is on hold as Boston-based Partners demands to see indications that the money-losing Rhode Island hospital chain can break even soon and head for a 1-2 percent operating margin. Care New England’s bond rating was recently downgraded after the chain reportedly lost $46 million during this fiscal year.

And so Lifespan, Rhode Island’s biggest hospital group, said it’s open again to considering taking over Care New England, about which there have been serious negotiations in recent years.

Last year, Care New England discussed merging with Southcoast Health System, in southeastern Massachusetts, but the talks fell through.

To read more, please hit this link.


Care New England wants Partners to acquire it


Rhode Island’s Care New England hospital system wants to be acquired by Greater Boston’s Partners HealthCare, which includes such famed institutions as Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.  CNE’s plan is to  sell off Memorial Hospital, in Pawtucket, R.I., as part of being acquired. Ohio-based Prime Healthcare would buy Memorial.

Because of Massachusetts state regulators’ concerns about Partners’ pricing power, that system has found it difficult to expand more in Greater Boston.

CNE’s  current units are:

“Today’s announcement represents the positive results of an extremely careful and deliberate process intended to ensure the best clinical, financial, and strategic direction forward for CNE,” said board Chairman Charles R. Reppucci, in a release. “While we are taking the first steps in this process, we do so with the utmost optimism and dedication to ensuring the successful completion of this affiliation with Partners which represents a unique and compelling opportunity in the advancement of Rhode Island healthcare delivery.”

Care New England has struggled financially in recent years and has  long been wanting to merge with another entity.

The system had  a $68.3 million operating loss in fiscal 2016 and a $1.8 million operating loss in fiscal 2015.

CNE has had a  relationship with Partners since 2009 through a clinical affiliation with Brigham and Women’s Hospital. And McLean Hospital, also owned by Partners, has  sometimes worked with Care New England’s Butler Hospital in behavioral health and research.

How such a merger would affect the Alpert  Medical School at Brown University is unknown. Partners has very close links with the Harvard Medical School.

Presumably the acquisition would involve  big golden parachutes for CNE executives.

ACA repeal could kill innovative programs at hospitals


The Republicans’ promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act not only threatens to deprive millions of people of their health insurance; it could drive many hospitals deep into debt and destroy innovative programs created by the ACA aimed at  improving patient care.

Timothy Ferris, M.D., an internist and medical director of the Mass General Physicians Organization, told FierceHealthcare that he worries that the “progress we’ve made over the past five years would be threatened.”

He said that  includes programs through the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) at Massachusetts General Hospital, including experiments with video consultations and home hospitalization.

Dennis Keefe, head of Care New England, in Rhode Island, told NPR that he is concerned about the future for Integra, an ACO that includes primary- care physicians, specialists, urgent-care and after-hour providers, clinics, laboratories and inpatient facilities.

Hospitals and healthcare systems that have spent the last six years trying to create new value-based, patient-centered models as part of the ACA.  And so 120 organizations sent a letter to President  Trump and Vice President Pence urging them to not roll back progress they have made.

To read more, please hit this link.

Hospitals should update Business Associate Agreements

A HIPAA privacy case involving Care New England’s Women & Infants Hospital, in Providence, shows the importance of updating Business Associate Agreements.

Late last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that Care New England  had agreed to pay a $400,000 fine, and implement a corrective action plan, to settle HIPAA violations. The investigation by HHS’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) started back on Nov. 5, 2012.

Physicians Practice reported  that HHS found “unencrypted back-up tapes containing nearly 14,000 patients’ protected health information,”  as well as other  violations.

OCR’s director, Jocelyn Samuels, said: “[t]his case illustrates the vital importance of reviewing and updating, as necessary, business associate agreements, especially in light of required revisions under the Omnibus Final Rule.”

Physicians Practice said: “Despite CNE and Woman & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island having a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) in place in March 2005, it had not been updated until Aug. 28, 2015 — nearly two-and-a-half years after the Omnibus Rule was published in the Federal Register.”

To read the Physicians Practice piece, please hit this link,

Southcoast in merger talks with Care New England

This just in from Boston Business Journal:

Southcoast Health System Inc. {serving large parts of southeastern Massachusetts} has announced merger discussions with {Rhode Island-based} Care New England, a deal that would create one of New England’s largest non-profit health care systems.

“The two organizations have signed a letter of intent to begin discussions forming a new non-for-profit parent organization that would oversee both systems, a setup that seems similar to that of Tufts Medical Center and Lowell General’s merger under parent company Wellforce. No financial details have been disclosed.”

Lifespan, Care New England revive merger talks


Care New England’s Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, right next to Rhode Island Hospital, owned by rival chain Lifespan. Some observers think that this proximity is financially and clinically bizarre.

Lifespan and Care New England, Rhode Island’s two largest hospital systems, have quietly revived merger talks, Rhode Island Public Radio reports.

Timothy Babineau, M.D., Lifespan chief executive, told Rhode Island Public Radio that the  talks “are in very early stages’’ and are in response to Care New England’s recent request for partnership proposals.

As Scott Mackay of RIPR noted: “The two large hospital chains, which control roughly 70 percent of the state’s healthcare market, have been down this read twice before, only to see the efforts crash amid a series of state regulatory and financial challenges.”

“The recent evolution of medical care in southern New England may augur in favor of such a combination now. Obamacare and the expansion of the federal Medicaid program have given hospitals more revenue. Yet, the competition from Massachusetts is, if anything, stronger than ever, with Bay State health providers moving relentlessly to poach patients, particularly those with private health insurance, from Rhode Island.”

“A merger would make sense on many levels, especially in building a stronger Rhode Island-based medical provider network. Many medical observers have long wondered why Women & Infants Hospital, which shares a campus with Rhode Island Hospital, is in Care New England, while Rhode is part of Lifespan.”




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