By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – The deadline to close on the deal to buy Landmark Medical Center has slipped once again, from Aug. 31 to Sept. 30.
In response to an Aug. 24 request by Steward Health Care, the for-profit hospital system poised to buy Landmark, The R.I. Attorney General’s office has extended the deadline by one month to Sept. 30.
Steward had initially requested an extension to Oct. 31.
This marks the second time that the deadline to close on the deal has been extended at the request of Steward by the Attorney General’s office.
The initial deadline was set as July 27, 60 days after the R.I. Attorney General Office’s had on May 25 given its approval to the sale as a state regulator under the Hospital Conversions Act.
Two days before the July deadline was set to expire, Steward requested an extension. An extension was granted by the R.I. Attorney General’s office after much discussion behind closed doors in Judge Michael A. Silverstein’s chambers during a July 27 hearing. The closing deadline was then moved to Aug. 31.
In extending the deadline to Sept. 30, R.I. Deputy Attorney General Gerald L. Coyne set as a condition that Steward, the Boston-base hospital system had to provide a closing checklist to the Attorney General’s office by Friday.
Coyne also warned that, given the passage of time between approval and closure, it became more difficult to ensure that there had not been material changes to the transaction previously reviewed and approved. Coyne raised the possibility that further extensions would cause the need for submission and review of additional updated information, “a circumstance we assume that no party would welcome.”
Currently, there are at least two outstanding conditions that are unresolved as part of the pending asset purchase agreement: contractual relationships with both Thundermist Health Center and 21st Century Oncology.
According to Charles T. ‘Chuck’ Jones, the president and CEO of Thundermist, no such agreement is in place. Jones told Providence Business News that Thundermist had not received any response to its most recent letter to Steward, sent in June.
Mark Russo, the Providence lawyer representing 21st Oncology (and the special master appointed to represent Westerly Hospital in receivership), was not available for comment.
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island and Steward are currently engaged in negotiations to hammer out a future insurance contract. The existing contracted between Landmark and Blue Cross expired Aug. 1, and Blue Cross has asked permission of state health regulators to remove Landmark from its network of providers.
Kim Reingold, Blue Cross spokeswoman, declined comment, saying: “Out of respect for the negotiating process we are currently in with Steward, we are going to decline comment at this time.”
Christopher Murphy, spokesman for Steward, did not respond to numerous e-mails and phone calls.
There are two Landmark-related court cases scheduled for hearings before Superior Court Judge Michael A. Silverstein in the next two days.
Wednesday afternoon, a hearing is scheduled to address Landmark’s failure to pay its state hospital licensing fee of more than $5 million and a Thursday hearing is scheduled on Landmark’s special master Jonathan N. Savage lawsuit being brought against Blue Cross for lack of reimbursement for services, which Savage claims led to Landmark’s financial difficulties.