KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Partners In Proposed Tennessee Merger Pledge $450M In Community Benefit If Deal Goes Forward

Also in Tennessee, Community Health Systems announces that its spinoff of 38 small-market hospitals into a new company will take place by the end of June, rather than its initial March target date. News outlets also report hospital news from Massachusetts, Illinois, Kansas and Florida.

Modern Healthcare: Tennessee Merger Partners Pledge $450 Million In Community Benefit
Two systems with 19 hospitals across several states in southern Appalachia are pledging up to $450 million in community benefits if authorities in Tennessee and Virginia allow their proposed merger to go forward. Wellmont Health System, headquartered in Kingsport, Tenn., and Mountain States Health Alliance of Johnson City, Tenn., detailed the offer in a pre-submission report, which is required as part of the regulatory approval processes in both states. Wellmont, a six-hospital system that serves Tennessee and Virginia, and Mountain States Health Alliance, a 13-hospital system that serves Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, promised to make investments in six areas over the next decade. (Sandler, 1/7)

Modern Healthcare: Community Health Systems Delays Quorum Health Spinoff
Community Health Systems announced its spinoff of 38 small-market hospitals into a new company called Quorum Health Corp. would likely take place before the end of June rather than March, as planned. The Franklin, Tenn.-based health system said market conditions contributed to the delay of the deal, which was announced in August. (Evans, 1/7)

Modern Healthcare: Baystate Health Averts Operating Loss With Pension Freeze
Baystate Health ended the year without an operating loss only after the Massachusetts health system froze its pension benefits, a move that generated enough revenue to offset losses from its health plan. Baystate, a Springfield, Mass.-based system that includes three hospitals, a multispecialty medical group and an HMO, recorded $69.7 million revenue in the year ended Sept. 30, 2015, from freezing its pension plan this year. (Evans, 1/7)

Modern Healthcare: Ruling Throws Illinois Hospitals' Tax Exemptions Into Question
An Illinois appeals court has ruled that a law defining what not-for-profit hospitals have to do to get tax breaks is unconstitutional. The ruling is yet another setback for not-for-profit hospitals, which have come under increased scrutiny in recent years over their tax exemptions. The 2012 Illinois law was meant to provide clarity around exemptions for hospitals. (Schencker, 1/7)

Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal: Kansas Lawmakers Hear Local Frustrations With Osawatomie State Hospital
Local officials, exasperated with continued problems at Osawatomie State Hospital, shared their frustrations with lawmakers Wednesday, asking sharp questions about the facility, which recently lost federal funding. ... An official from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, which oversees the hospital, acknowledged employees had falsified log records as federal inspectors have charged. But she rejected the accusation by inspectors the hospital suffered from “systemic failure.” (Shorman, 1/6)

Miami Herald: Hospital Board Identifies 10 Candidates For Memorial Healthcare CEO
More than four months into their search for a new chief executive to lead South Broward's $1.8 billion-a-year public hospital network, the board of commissioners that governs Memorial Healthcare System reviewed a list of 10 candidates on Thursday — and this time, they got to see the names of every prospect. The search to replace CEO Frank Sacco, who announced last summer that he will retire in February after 28 years in the top job at one of the largest public hospital systems in Florida, has divided the seven members of the South Broward Hospital District that oversees MHS. (Chang, 1/7)

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