New Volley In Battle To Block Prime From NJ

NJBIZ — Monday, May 6, 2013

By Beth Fitzgerald

A coalition that includes New Jersey Citizen Action and several unions last week asked the state health department to suspend its consideration of the proposed acquisition of St. Michael's Medical Center, in Newark, and St. Mary's Hospital, in Passaic, by California-based Prime Healthcare, the subject of federal investigations involving Medicare billing and patient confidentiality.

In a statement, St. Mary's said, "The longer this process is delayed, the more the community is put at risk for losing its only hospital. The sale needs to proceed without unwarranted delays in order to maintain the continuity and access to care this city needs and deserves."

Prime spokesman Edward Barrera said a previous investigation into the Medicare billing issue resulted in no penalties or fines being imposed on Prime. He said the other federal review involves an allegation by a patient at one of Prime's hospitals that it improperly disclosed protected health information; he said Prime does not believe the allegation has any merit.

The community coalition opposing Prime said "without knowing the outcome of these investigations, we cannot be sure Prime could meet its commitments and obligation to invest in these hospitals."

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