Beshear says no to hospital merger

Gov. Steve Beshear has said no to the much-discussed merger between three major Kentucky health systems, which, because it required his blessing, puts an end to the proposal.

“After exhaustive discussions and research, I have determined that this proposed transaction is not in the best interest of the commonwealth and therefore should not move forward,” he said. “In my opinion, the risks to the public outweigh the potential benefits.”
The merger would have been between University of Louisville‘s University Hospital, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare and Saint Joseph Health System, owned by Catholic Health Initiatives. Because Saint Joseph would have had majority control in the deal, the other facilities would have had to adhere to Catholic health directives, which affect procedures such as elective abortions, sterilizations, artificial insemination and euthanasia. (C-J photo by John Rott)
“That raised concerns among many community members and leaders, who also worried about the possibility of more limitations in the future if Catholic directives change,” reports Laura Ungar of The Courier-Journal.
Beshear said the merger would result in considerable legal and policy concerns. “However, most troubling to me is the loss of control of a public asset,” he said. “University Hospital is a public asset with an important public mission, and if this merger were allowed to happen, U of L and the public would have only indirect and minority influence over the new statewide network’s affairs and its use of state assets.”
Attorney General Jack Conway applauded Beshear’s call. “I believe he ultimately made the appropriate decision on behalf of the commonwealth’s interests,” he said.
Hospital officials expressed disappointment, saying the “greatest beneficiaries of the proposed merger” would have been the patients of the commonwealth.
Beshear acknowledged the changing face of health care landscape does present new problems, but added he is committed to helping University and Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare reach “our shared goals of providing quality care, especially to our poorest and most vulnerable citizens, as well as finding ways to ensure both facilities remain on strong financial footing,” he said. (Read more)
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