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Lifespan, Care New England, officially drop merger bid

February 24, 2022 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s two largest hospital systems have abandoned their efforts to merge, a week after the state attorney general denied their application over concerns about higher health care costs and reduced competition in the market.

Lifespan and Care New England could have mounted a legal challenge to the attorney general’s decision, but have decided not to, the organizations said in a jont statement Wednesday.

“The board of directors for both Lifespan and Care New England met separately this week and have decided not to pursue litigation on the matter, and will withdraw their Hospital Conversions Act application,” the statement said.

They have also decided not to pursue a legislative solution.

Attorney General Peter Neronha rejected the merger application last Thursday and joined a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit to block any deal.

“Put simply, if this extraordinary and unprecedented level of control and consolidation were allowed to go forward, nearly all Rhode Islanders would see their health care costs go up, for health care that is lower in quality and harder to access,” Neronha said then.

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The organizations disagreed, saying Wednesday “the combination of the systems would have greatly enhanced the clinical, academic and research missions, reduced costs and improved the patient care environment.”

Also Wednesday, StoneBridge Healthcare, a hospital turnaround company based in Pennsylvania, submitted a bid of $550 million for the financially struggling Care New England, which includes a $250 million price as well as $300 million in capital improvements over seven years.

A CNE spokesperson declined to comment on the bid.