Lifespan and Care New England, Rhode Island’s two largest health care systems, submitted a revised Hospital Conversions Act application to the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office and the Rhode Island Department of Health Oct. 1, according to a Monday press release.
The application seeks approval for the two health care systems’ proposed merger and the revision addresses “follow-up questions” from the Attorney General’s Office and RIDOH to the original April application. The questions address “charity care, quality, population health, health equities and diversity,” Kathleen Hart, director of public relations at Lifespan, wrote in an email to The Herald.
The University announced its intention to form an integrated academic health system with Lifespan and Care New England in April, The Herald previously reported. Through the partnership, the University will contribute research and medical education while Lifespan and Care New England supply clinical practice and resources from teaching hospitals, all with the goal of providing Rhode Island residents with world-class physicians and “health care from birth to end of life,” President Christina Paxson P’19 previously wrote in an email to The Herald.
Brown plans to invest at least $125 million into the partnership over the next five years. The University will have voting membership on the Board of Directors of the merged system, and the chair of the health system will become a voting member of the Corporation — the University’s highest governing body.
The follow-up questions to the April application are a means for RIDOH and the Attorney General’s Office to “get the information we need to conduct our analysis,” wrote Kristy dosReis, public information officer at the Attorney General’s Office, in an email to The Herald.
“It’s not uncommon, particularly in a transaction of this magnitude and complexity, to go back to the parties and request more information,” dosReis added.
The Attorney General’s Office will have until Nov. 16 to approve the application, to approve it with certain conditions or to deny it, dosReis wrote. “In determining whether or not to approve a transaction, we will be evaluating the proposed transaction’s impact on health care quality, affordability and accessibility for Rhode Islanders,” dosReis added. RIDOH will conduct its own analysis of the application.
Lifespan and Care New England initially submitted an antitrust filing under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act to the Federal Trade Commission in April, according to the press release. Over the past few months, the two companies have submitted several thousand pages of documents to answer “the FTC’s most pressing questions.” The two companies will respond to the FTC’s information requests in the coming weeks with more documentation.
The University will begin its collaboration with the health care system after the merger is complete, University Spokesperson Brian Clark wrote in an email to The Herald. There is not yet a set timeline for the University’s involvement. Because the University is not legally a party in the merger, it will play no role in the application or revisions process.
Since the announcement of the partnership, the University has focused on working with “stakeholders and constituencies to share the vision for the integrated academic health system and why it is good for the people of Rhode Island and for the region,” Clark wrote.
“Brown brings tremendous expertise in medical education, public health and research,” Clark added. “We have the opportunity to seamlessly integrate medical education and research with the clinical care at the patient bedside while also advancing biomedical discovery, educating future leaders in medicine and public health and creating a vibrant economic nexus in the region based on the health care industry.”
“Our first priority is to ensure that the affiliation moves forward in a way that improves healthcare in our state for patients, creating a system meeting the needs of all in our community, across race, language and income,” Timothy Babineau, president and CEO of Lifespan, said in the press release.
The combined health care system will be better equipped to handle financial difficulties, healthcare worker shortages and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the press release. The merger also aims to improve access to and quality of health care, boost research and innovation and reduce health disparities.
“We are pleased that the process has continued on track and look forward to continued dialogue with our regulators to ensure that they have all the necessary information to review and ultimately approve the proposed transaction,” James Fanale, president and CEO of Care New England, said in the press release. “With everything going on in the world and in healthcare today, we must create the most resilient system as we can.”