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Rival hospitals fear Caritas sale

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | September 16, 2010
First it was Catholic groups, now rival local hospitals are irked by the sale of the Caritas Christi Health Care system in eastern Massachusetts to private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.

A coalition of hospitals from Lawrence, Brockton and New Bedford is asking the state attorney general's office to lay down rules on the sale in order to create what one executive called "a level playing field."

"It's going to be very difficult to compete against private equity money," Dianne J. Anderson, president and CEO of Lawrence General Hospital, one of the partners in the coalition, told The Boston Globe today.

The group, called the Healthcare Access Coalition, wants to make sure N.Y.-based Cerberus doesn't use "improper" incentives to poach doctors from other hospitals, as it moves to turn the six-hospital Catholic system for-profit.

The coalition also wants the AG to institute a three-year freeze on price hikes for services, make sure the Caritas' health plans not exclude other hospitals and get a commitment from Cerberus not to sell the system for a minimum of seven years.

Attorney General Martha Coakley is expected to make her recommendation on the case this fall to the Supreme Judicial Court of the state, which then has to approve the deal, the Globe said.