Boston Mega-Hospital Group Partners HealthCare Moves Forward with Acquisition of Care New England

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


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Partners' HQ - the company employs over 70,000 today

On Monday, Partners HealthCare and Brigham Health filed an application with the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and Rhode Island Attorney General, in accordance with the Rhode Island Hospital Conversion Act, seeking approval of Brigham Health’s planned acquisition of Care New England (CNE).

Partners HealthCare said they will later this week file a Notice of Material Change with the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission. The Federal Trade Commission recently announced that it would not challenge the acquisition.

The affiliation calls for CNE to become part of Brigham Health, the Partners-owned organization that operates Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital and other entities.

Partners' budget is 50 percent larger than the state of Rhode Island’s and the conglomerate employs more than 70,000 workers. Partners' budget in 2017 was reported to be in excess of $13.4 billion

In January, Brown University President Christina Paxson blistered Boston-based healthcare conglomerate Partners HealthCare and their plan to enter the Rhode Island market via their acquisition of the financial fledgling Care New England hospital group

“I feel strongly that letting this acquisition go forward would be wrong for Rhode Island and for Brown. Doing so is likely to lead to specialty healthcare shifting to Massachusetts, impeding access to healthcare for Rhode Islanders and especially for members of the state’s underserved communities,” she wrote in a letter to the Brown community that was released to the public and media.

In a conference call with reporters back in January, Paxson said she was concerned that if Partners made the acquisition of Care New England, Rhode Island would see significant jobs losses.

“It also would likely increase the cost of care and reduce the ability of Rhode Islanders — consumers, businesses, healthcare workers and policy-makers — to have a voice in how our healthcare system works. If the focal point of Rhode Island healthcare shifts to Boston, excellent physicians (many of them Brown-trained) could be less likely to choose Rhode Island as a place to practice,” she added.

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Brown President Paxson strongly opposed the entrance of Partners to the market and has now flipped

Brown's Flip-Flop Moves Forward

By August, Paxson had reversed course -- and Brown’s reversal was formalized.

Partners HealthCare, Care New England Health System and Brown University announced they signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to formalize “a joint commitment to providing the highest quality of patient care, physician training and biomedical innovation to Rhode Island.”

“This agreement sets us on a clear path for achieving Brown’s goals of a partnership that will enhance the quality of clinical care, generate biomedical research that improves population health and fuel economic development in Rhode Island,” Paxson said via the joint release.

“This relationship will extend our existing affiliations across the Care New England system, bringing new resources to support patient care and physician training and expanding access to research through clinical trials,” said Elizabeth G. Nabel, MD, President of Brigham Health. “We’re committed to investing in Rhode Island’s healthcare economy by becoming active members of the local business community.”

“Rhode Islanders will benefit greatly from the collaboration of these two health systems,” said Care New England President and CEO James E. Fanale, MD. “Our relationship with Brigham Health will enhance the training of physicians and inspire new research. At the same time, it strengthens our commitment to preserving access and quality of care for all Rhode Islanders.”

In addition, CNE, Partners, and Brigham Health finalized an agreement with Brown establishing the university’s Warren Alpert Medical School as the primary academic research and teaching institution of record for the affiliation. Further, Brown’s President will join the CNE Board of Directors as a voting member, and the dean of the Warren Alpert Medical School will be an ex officio member of academic and research subcommittees of that board.

Brown has a longstanding academic medical affiliation with CNE, which is home to Brown’s programs in obstetrics and gynecology and neonatology (at Women & Infants Hospital); in psychiatry (at Butler Hospital); and in family medicine (at Kent Hospital). This new relationship will sustain medical training for healthcare providers and support for biomedical research and innovation that keeps leading physicians in the state.

“Together, we will be even better positioned to prepare our future physicians for the rapidly changing world of healthcare and medical innovation,” Brown President Christina Paxson said. “We will build on our ability to compete for biomedical research grants that will guide the future of medicine and inject new investment and vibrancy into the Rhode Island economy.”

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Care New England has laid off thousands

Nurses Respond

"UNAP's priority is to strengthen and preserve healthcare services for Rhode Island patients and jobs for hard-working Rhode Island health professionals. To that end, we have yet to receive any specific commitments or review any plans that speak to these critical issues from either of the parties involved in this potential transaction," said United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) spokesman Ray Sullivan on Monday. "Our conversations with Partners and Care New England have been thoughtful and productive to date, and we look forward to them continuing into the future."

Over the past three years, Care New England has laid off thousands of employees, closed Memorial Hospital layoff 800 workers and lost more than $120 million

According to the release by Care New England, if the acquisition is approved by state regulators, "The three partners will deepen their collaboration through this clinical, medical education and biomedical research affiliation. The governance will support the shared commitment of Partners, Brigham Health, CNE and Brown to help ensure high-quality, affordable care for Rhode Island."

RIDOH previously granted expedited review status of the application. Once the application is deemed complete, RIDOH and the Attorney General have 90 days from that date to issue their determinations.

The last major hospital merger in Rhode Island was Prospect of California’s acquisition of CharterCARE in 2014, which led in part to the collapse of the St. Joseph Health Services pension fund. That pension failure has led to a pension fund shortage of more than $118 million according to receiver Steve Del Sesto. Presently, the fund's collapse is being litigated in both federal and state court.

And while Care New England was laying off workers in 2018, Partners did as well -- shipping more than 100 top paid tech jobs to India.


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