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Which hospital systems want to merge with RI’s Care New England?

The only public bid CNE has received is from StoneBridge Healthcare, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit, which submitted its second bid for CNE in February 2022 for $550 million. StoneBridge, which was founded in 2020, is led by Josh Nemzoff, who has over 40 years of experience as a consultant in the healthcare industry. Nemzoff made his first attempt to buy Care New England in December 2020 for $250 million.

Some observers and political leaders have said Mass General Brigham, formerly known as Partners HealthCare, may be interested in striking another deal.

In April 2017, Boston-based Mass General Brigham attempted to acquire Care New England, and even went so far as to sign a definitive merger agreement. Lifespan launched an opposition campaign against the deal, saying it would “cost” Rhode Island with rising health care prices and shifting jobs to Massachusetts. But at the time, the FTC had already signed the agreement.

The corporate offices of Massachusetts General Brigham Hospitals at Assembly Square in Somerville.Lane Turner / Globe Staff

But former Governor Gina M. Raimondo, now U.S. Secretary of Commerce, asked Fanale, Lifespan executives and Brown University School of Medicine to create a locally run academic medical center in Rhode Island. . Mass General pulled out of its acquisition, but interim CEO Anne Klibanski hasn’t ruled out reigniting talks in the future. And the deal between Lifespan, Care New England and Brown was strongly rejected by state and federal regulators earlier this year.

Jennifer Street, a spokeswoman for Mass General Brigham, declined to comment for this story, but Fanale previously said the system’s relationship and clinical affiliation with Mass General was “exceptional” and “extremely important to us now and in the future.” the future”.

“So are we likely to discuss the options? We certainly will. They are part of us,” he told The Globe in March. “It’s a great relationship no matter what, and they’ll be part of the discussion going forward.”

When asked on Wednesday if Mass General Brigham was one of Care New England’s potential suitors, Fanale said: “I can’t say because it’s all under an NDA.”

The only other possible suitors in Rhode Island would be Prime Healthcare Services, Yale New Haven Health, South County Health and Prospect Medical Holdings (also known as CharterCARE in Rhode Island).

Earlier this year, before state and federal regulators blocked a proposed merger between Care New England and Lifespan, the state’s largest system, executives from two Rhode Island hospitals expressed interest in hospitals across the country. CNE.

In a letter sent to the Attorney General’s office, Michael R. Souza, CEO of Prime Healthcare Services, which operates Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, made an offer to purchase the Kent hospital “to minimize the problem anti-trust” in lifetime. agreement, and “infuse much-needed capital, as well as cash consideration”.

It’s unclear what any deal between Landmark and CNE would look like, but under Rhode Island state law, the transaction would have to be approved by the attorney general’s office and the state health department. When asked if the offer was still on the table, Elizabeth Nikels, a spokeswoman for Prime Healthcare, declined to comment on “specific opportunities that are or are not currently being considered.”

But union leaders have long opposed the idea.

In 2018, Prime was forced to pay the federal government $65 million to settle a lawsuit in which hospitals allegedly knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare by admitting patients requiring less expensive outpatient care and charging patients for more expensive diagnoses than patients actually had. Last year, the company had to pay an additional $37.5 million to settle allegations of kickbacks and other misrepresentations.

“The for-profit alternative, of course, is a non-starter,” wrote Lynn Blais, president of United Nurses and Allied Professions, in a letter to the Attorney General on February 1.

South County Hospital in South Kingstown, Rhode Island.South County Hospital

Independent Company CEO Aaron Robinson South County Health, previously told The Globe when Lifespan’s proposed merger with CNE was still a possibility, that Kent Hospital or Lifespan-owned Newport Hospital need not be part of the equation. He said he had attempted to speak with the heads of the Lifespan and Care New England systems, but none were interested due to their exclusivity clause.

At the time, the day before the Lifespan-CNE deal was denied by the attorney general’s office, Robinson said he would be “very open” to resuming those discussions if the merger was not fully approved.

On Thursday, Robinson said the plan to form a community health care delivery system, which included Kent and South County, was tied to the merger of Lifespan and Care New England only.

“It would have allowed for the creation of an academic medical center while preserving competition to promote quality, value and innovation. Now that the merger of Lifespan and Care New England is not moving forward, the community health care delivery system as originally envisioned is no longer applicable,” he said in an email to The Globe. But, he said, the hospital “will continue to explore all forms of compliant partnership to enhance high-quality community care for all Rhode Islanders.”

Members of UNAP (United Nurses & Alied Professionals) Local 5110 hold an information picket at Notre Dame de Fatima Hospital in North Providence.Staff of Pat Greenhouse/Globe

Los Angeles-based Prospect Medical Holdings, which owns Roger Williams Medical Center in Providence and Our Lady of Fatima Hospital in North Providence, is seeking to offload its two properties, making it unlikely the company will want to acquire Care New England .

Prospect also has a long history of financial instability and grueling fights with local lawmakers over ownership changes. In 2018, Prospect borrowed about $1 billion, which was used to pay a dividend of almost half a billion dollars. The attorney general’s office recently told the Globe that a firm had not shown interest in Fatima or Roger Williams for months.

Prospect spokesman Otis Brown did not respond to multiple inquiries from The Globe.

Yale New Haven Health, which also owns and operates Westerly Hospital, is set to acquire two health networks, including three Connecticut-based hospitals, from Prospect. But Fiona Phelan, spokeswoman for Westerly Hospital, previously said she was not aware of any interest in Prospect properties in Rhode Island.

When asked if Yale New Haven was interested in expanding its footprint further in Rhode Island by acquiring CNE in any way, Phelan replied in an email, “Not at this time.”

Alexa Gagosz can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.