New Massachusetts AG Could Play a Role in Partners Healthcare Acquisition


Attorney General, Martha Coakley, is currently investigating the antitrust settlement with Partners Healthcare, who is trying to acquire South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Health System. The settlement allows for Partners Healthcare to acquire several community hospitals, while implementing restrictions on price growth and limiting contract issues with insurers.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders is deciding whether or not to wait until the Attorney General-elect Maura Healey and Governor-elect Charlie Baker take office before ruling on the settlement. She worries that the new administration may feel differently about the price monitoring required under the settlement. Sanders says she wants Healey to put her full support behind the agreement.

Assistant Attorney General Chris Barry-Smith wants a faster settlement and claims that a future attorney general’s opinion would only matter if the settlement was denied. Martha Coakley stressed that her successor would follow her decision because it is in the best interest of the people.

Barry-Smith and Bruce Sokler, an attorney for Partners, agree that delaying the settlement would be a bad institutional example because it would cause others not to act. Delaying until a new attorney general is in office may also be illegal because the judicial branch is interfering in enforcement and the executive branch.

Sander’s also questioned whether Coakley has political motives behind the settlement agreement, since she is running for governor. Coakley is frustrated that the court may wait to hear the stance of the next attorney general because she claims, “You either have enough information or not to make the decision.”

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