Dartmouth Health and GraniteOne Health have collaborated for nearly 20 years. (Getty Images)
Two of the state’s largest health care providers have abandoned plans to merge following objections from the Attorney General’s Office, which said the proposed partnership between Dartmouth Health and GraniteOne Health would limit competition yet not provide protections for consumers.
“New Hampshire consumers already pay exceptionally high prices for health care,” said Attorney General John Formella in a statement. “Our duty is to protect the public, and we will use all enforcement tools available to us to do so. Considerable diligence was put forth to reach common ground with both health care systems. Without remedies in place protecting the public from harm and ensuring the combined system delivers on the promised benefits, the transaction as proposed is not something that I can approve.”
Formella issued his statement Friday following an intensive three-year review by the office’s Charitable Trusts Unit.
Dartmouth Health issued a statement following the attorney general’s statement and release of the Charitable Trusts Unit report.
“Today, after considerable deliberation, and in light of the attorney general’s report …, the leadership of Dartmouth Health and GraniteOne Health made the difficult decision to end our pursuit of a formal combination of our health systems,” said Dr. Joanne Conroy, CEO and president of Dartmouth Health. “Although we disagree with, and are deeply disappointed by, the result of the regulatory review, we respect the process that led to this decision.”
GraniteOne Health is a loosely connected system of three New Hampshire hospitals: Catholic Medical Center, Monadnock Community Hospital, and Huggins Hospital. It was formed to create a system to oversee strategies and integration activities for the three hospitals, the attorney general’s report said.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health includes the state’s only academic medical center; Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center; Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital (MHMH); five physician group practices; Keene Medical Center; Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital; New London Hospital; and health care providers in Vermont.
The two organizations have collaborated for nearly 20 years. Merging would have formalized that partnership, Conroy said.
“We had hoped to join with GraniteOne to make strategic investments in offering a New Hampshire-based alternative to more costly out-of-state care and to build capacity in southern New Hampshire,” she said. “We will continue our work together to provide exemplary care for every patient, right here in New Hampshire.”
Lauren Collins-Cline, spokeswoman for Catholic Medical Center, also issued a statement Friday.
“We have been working diligently to reach an agreement with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office on our combination. Despite many months of negotiations, the parties were not able to agree on all of the terms,” she said. “This outcome is disappointing for GraniteOne Health and its members. … It’s also disappointing for the patients and communities of New Hampshire. Based on the public forums we held last fall, it was clear how much the community supports our organizations and recognized the benefits this combination would have provided.”
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