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public policy

Legislation filed to lift 3-year ban on hospital buys

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PROVIDENCE – Legislation was introduced Jan. 24 that would enable Steward Health Care to buy more nonprofit community hospitals in Rhode Island without the three-year wait currently required by law.

A provision in the Hospital Conversions Act bars for-profit hospitals from making additional purchases of nonprofit hospitals in Rhode Island for three years after purchasing a nonprofit hospital.

Steward, a for-profit hospital system owned by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, has a pending application to buy Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket and the Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island in North Smithfield for $71.6 million.

The application is currently being reviewed by state regulators at the R.I. Department of Health and the R.I. Attorney General’s office. A decision is expected this summer.

Providence Business News reported Dec. 5 that Steward is said to be considering additional purchases of hospitals within the Rhode Island market beyond Landmark.

The proposed legislation, 2012-S2180, was written by the R.I. General Assembly’s Legislative Council. It has been referred to the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee.

“The health care market in Rhode Island is reflective of what is happening in many other areas. Community hospitals are struggling and cannot access the capital they need through donations or the bond market,” said Steward spokesman Christopher Murphy, who voiced support for the legislation.

“As an example, both Landmark and Westerly Hospital are in receivership and CharterCare [Roger Williams Medical Center and St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island] has issued an RFP to find a partner,” Murphy added.

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