Metro, News

Lifespan eyes Care New England, Partners HealthCare deal

Local health care group’s entry heralded as positive development, alternative to Brown-Prospect deal

By and
Senior Staff Writers
Friday, March 2, 2018

Representatives of Care New England and the United Nurses and Allied Professionals union have criticized the University’s merger proposal.

Lifespan will begin formal talks with Care New England and Partners HealthCare about working together to improve health care in Rhode Island, according to a joint statement released by the three parties Tuesday.

“By combining the talent, experience and resources of our like-minded, provider-based organizations, we envision creating a national model that fully leverages the integration and coordination of care,” the statement read.

Lifespan — Rhode Island’s first health care system — currently operates more than 15 medical facilities within the state. Lifespan also has a history of working with the University, facilitating trainings at Alpert Medical School.

On Jan. 25, Boston-based Partners HealthCare and local health care group CNE formally agreed to merge, as The Herald previously reported.

President Christina Paxson P’19 initially expressed her concern with Partners HealthCare’s acquisition of CNE in a community-wide email Jan. 11, as The Herald previously reported.  In particular, Paxson was concerned about specialty care moving out of state to Massachusetts and health care costs in Rhode Island increasing as a result of the CNE-Partners deal.

In her email, Paxson proposed an alternate deal for the University to work with California-based for-profit organization Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc. to merge with CNE.

“Brown announced its hope that, with Prospect Medical, the University would have the opportunity to present a proposal for a local acquisition of Care New England. Brown is committed to investing in Rhode Island health care,” Paxson wrote in an op-ed published by the Providence Journal Jan. 20.

But Brown’s proposal has not been without criticism. A representative of CNE did not react favorably to the Brown-Prospect proposal, describing it as an attempt to “acquire and split up the Care New England Health System — a process undertaken of their own independent action and interests,” as The Herald previously reported.

Representatives of United Nurses and Allied Professionals also criticized the University for partnering with Prospect. Linda McDonald, president of Rhode Island United Nurses and Allied Professionals, referenced Prospect’s record of providing poor quality services and using contaminated and broken materials that led to “high patient injury and infection rates” in a Herald op-ed. UNAP Director Jack Callaci also noted that Prospect is “not the hometown solution” because it is owned by the venture capital firm Leonard Green and Partners and has allocated $600 million to its stockholders.

In contrast, UNAP supports Lifespan’s entry into negotiations between CNE and Prospect, Callaci said.

Gov. Gina Raimondo also regarded Lifespan’s negotiations as a positive development. “It’s great to see another local, homegrown Rhode Island institution joining the collaboration. Whatever the proposal, I am focused on making sure costs to Rhode Islanders don’t increase and that medical care, research and teaching all stay in-state,” Raimondo said in a statement, acording to Rhode Island Public Radio.

If Lifespan, CNE and Partners were to merge, the majority of Rhode Island’s medical facilities would be managed by the partnership.

“We have advocated for this kind of within-state dialogue for years,” Paxson wrote in a statement on Tuesday. Nevertheless, “a business relationship between Partners and Lifespan that further consolidates market power could have additional adverse effects on Rhode Islanders,” Paxson wrote.