- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 16, 2019

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A nonprofit health care system that includes several Rhode Island hospitals announced Tuesday that it’s withdrawing from talks about a proposed merger.

Care New England said its board voted to formally withdraw from discussions with Lifespan, Rhode Island’s largest hospital system, and Brown University in Providence.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo had urged Care New England, Lifespan and the Ivy League school to establish a locally-run, academic medical center in the state.

Raimondo said Tuesday she’s disappointed because she continues to believe that the proposed medical center is in the state’s best interest. She encouraged the parties to remain open to future discussions and look for new ways to collaborate.

“It wasn’t in the cards right now for these parties to come together,” she told reporters, after meeting with the governors of Connecticut and Massachusetts in Connecticut. “I am hopeful that they’ll figure out a way to deepen their relationship and a year from now, maybe it’ll be different.”

Care New England said its board considered capital requirements and financial stability of the combined system, community need, anti-trust issues, organizational stability and implementation risks. The board concluded it’s in the best interest of Care New England and the community it serves to end the discussions.

Lifespan executives said they respect the decision but are extremely disappointed.

Boston-based Partners HealthCare had wanted to acquire Care New England, a merger that was fiercely opposed by Lifespan.

Partners said in June that it was withdrawing its bid, after Raimondo urged Care New England, Lifespan and Brown to resume negotiations. But the company added that it would be ready to “re-engage” with the state at a later time.

Raimondo said Tuesday that she wouldn’t support Partners doing that because she wants a locally operated academic medical center.

Lifespan operates Rhode Island, Miriam, Hasbro Children’s, Newport and Bradley hospitals. Care New England operates Kent, Butler and Women & Infants hospitals.

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