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January 28, 2015

New Mass. Attorney General Aims to Block Big Health Nonprofit's Expansion

Reversing her predecessor's stand, newly elected Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey called on a judge this week to reject a plan by the state's largest medical chain to acquire three more hospitals, The Boston Globe reports. In a court filing Monday, Ms. Healey raised the possibility of a state suit to block nonprofit Partners HealthCare's intended purchase of medical centers in Weymouth, Medford, and Melrose, Mass.

Former attorney general Martha Coakley backed the mergers after reaching a deal with Partners that would limit for several years its ability to expand further and raise prices at the newly acquired units. A Suffolk County Superior Court judge is considering whether to approve the settlement and allow the mergers to progress.

The new attorney general echoed critics of the deal, including consumer advocates and insurance firms, which maintain it would give Partners too much power in the Massachusetts medical market and does not do enough to rein in patient costs. Ms. Healey said her office would enforce the settlement if it is approved but would file an antitrust suit if the court rejects the deal and Partners pursues the purchases anyway.