KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Calif. Health System Ends Pursuit Of Ore. Hospital Amid Community Concerns

A California health system formerly tied to the Roman Catholic Church has ended its bid to acquire a community hospital in Oregon amid concerns over access to abortion and assisted suicide services. Meanwhile, two of Michigan's largest hospital groups are expected to announce plans Wednesday to pursue a merger.

Modern Healthcare: Dignity Health, Ore. Hospital End Acquisition Talks
Dignity Health has broken off negotiations to acquire Ashland (Ore.) Community Hospital, the first hospital with which Dignity announced it was in talks after rebranding itself in early 2012 and setting its sights on expanding nationwide. Neither side said why talks deteriorated, citing a confidentiality agreement. A six-month exclusive negotiating window between the hospital and Dignity, a San Francisco-based Catholic health system, began in April. However, according to a Dignity news release, "the two organizations were not able to reach an agreement on the final closing conditions for the merger and have decided to end negotiations" (Selvam, 10/30).

The Ashland Daily Tidings: Dignity Health Ends Deal With ACH
Dignity Health has dropped plans to merge with Ashland Community Hospital, a decision that a local hospital official said stemmed at least in part from community resistance. Despite the setback, ACH still hopes to have an alliance formed with a new hospital system by the end of 2012, said Doug Gentry, chairman of the hospital board. "We are very disappointed that negotiations with Dignity could not move forward … we felt Dignity was a strong, good fit for the hospital and community," Gentry said. "We wanted to keep negotiations open … but we're quite sure they mean what they say" (Wheeler, 10/30).

The Associated Press/San Francisco Chronicle: California System Drops Bid For Ashland Hospital
Amid concern in the community over access to abortion and assisted suicide services, a California hospital system once tied to the Roman Catholic Church has dropped plans to take over the Ashland Community Hospital. The Ashland Daily Tidings reports that Dignity Health of San Francisco didn't cite specific reasons in a letter halting negotiations, other than "residual resistance" in the community and uncertainty about being able to conclude the deal. The hospital has been losing money -- $2.5 million in the last fiscal year (10/30).

In the meantime, two large hospital groups in Michigan prepare to merge --

Detroit Free Press: Henry Ford, Beaumont Health Systems To Announce Merger Talks In Blockbuster Deal
In a blockbuster deal to combine two of Michigan's largest hospital groups, Henry Ford Health System and Beaumont Health System are expected to announce Wednesday that they have signed letters of intent to pursue a merger. A press conference is to be held at 11 a.m. at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, with CEOs of both groups present, several sources told the Free Press. News of the deal, which is contingent on further discussions and due diligence, began to circulate among industry and civic leaders Tuesday afternoon, following a meeting where Beaumont trustees approved it, according to sources who requested anonymity because the discussions were confidential. Henry Ford’s board met last Friday and voted to pursue the merger (Walsh, 10/30).

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