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January 30, 2015

Mass. Judge Rejects Nonprofit Health Giant's Growth Deal

A Massachusetts judge dealt a severe blow Thursday to nonprofit Partners HealthCare's expansion plans, rejecting a consent agreement that would have paved the way for the state's biggest medical system to acquire three more hospitals, reports The Boston Globe.

The proposed settlement worked out last year by Partners and then-Attorney General Martha Coakley would have temporarily limited the network from expanding further and capped price hikes at the newly acquired hospitals in Melrose, Medford, and Weymouth, Mass. Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Janet L. Sanders termed the deal a "Band-Aid" that was not sufficient to curb Partners' market dominance and ability to exact higher prices from insurers for patient care.

Partners, which includes 10 hospitals and 6,000 doctors across eastern Massachusetts, could still pursue the mergers, which it says will allow the three community hospitals to deliver care more efficiently. New Attorney General Maura Healey, siding with consumer advocates and insurance firms that oppose the deals, pledged to file an antitrust suit to block the sales if the settlement was rejected.