- A superior court judge in Maine put a hold on the proposed merger of Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, and Northern Light Health in Brewer, Maine, Bangor Daily News reports.
- The judge issued the hold last week after a member of Mayo Regional Hospital's board or directors sued Hospital Administrative District No. 4, the entity that oversees the 25-bed hospital, to allow for a hearing for a preliminary injunction seeking more information about the proposed deal.
- The lawsuit disputes Mayo's claim that its financials are unsustainable, but argues Northern Light, a nine-hospital system, is in a "financially challenging situation." The hearing must held within 10 days of the issuance of the hold.
The hold on the Maine hospitals merger reflects a growing trend among state and local officials to question M&As, particularly if access to services may be affected.
Mayo Regional says it serves about 26,000 residents across three Maine counties. Dover-Foxcroft has a population of more than 4,000, and the hospital also has outpatient clinics in neighboring towns of Corinth, Dexter, Guilford and Milo, according to its website.
Last year, Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson asked then-Mayo Clinic president John Noseworthy to put consolidation plans for its Albert Lea, Minnesota, hospital on hold until local groups opposed to the plan could complete a financial review. Noseworthy declined the request on grounds the decision — which involved combining consolidating services at Albert Lea with those at a facility 25 miles away in Austin, Minnesota, — would best serve patient interests.
The Rochester, Minnesota-based health system (not affiliated with the Maine hospital) cited staff shortages, rising costs and declining reimbursement as reasons for the consolidation.
And Washington, D.C.-based Providence Health System's board of directors voted to rescind approval of a plan that would transition the hospital away from acute care services to a population health focus, citing concerns it would result in a shortage of hospital beds in the area. Providence responded by firing most of the board members.
A recent University of California-Berkeley analysis found healthcare M&A resulted in higher prices for hospitals, doctors' services and Affordable Care Act premiums in the state, particularly in Northern California. In 2014, consumers in the northern part of the state paid inpatient and outpatient prices that were 70% and between 17% and 55% higher, respectively, compared with Southern California. ACA premiums were 35% higher up north versus down south.
The report urged California regulators and lawmakers to look into the issue.