Jameson, UPMC to Work on Merger Consent Decree

NEW CASTLE, Pa. – The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office will not object to Jameson Health System’s proposed merger with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on the condition that the office can reach an acceptable consent decree with UPMC, Jameson officials announced Thursday.

“The result of this decision is that we can proceed to close our deal with UPMC provided that UPMC and the Office of the Attorney General can join Jameson in completing a consent decree addressing the state’s potential antitrust concerns. There is still work to do until the deal is final,” said Lisa Lombardo, spokeswoman for Jameson, in the news release

In September 2014, Jameson announced its intent to merge with UPMC, a process it expected to complete by early 2015. Jameson’s board approved the merger in February of that year but the state objected to the deal, citing antitrust concerns raised by the post-merger market share of the combined UPMC-Jameson in Lawrence County

Last August, at the request of the attorney general, Jameson engaged a national advisory firm to conduct a nationwide request for proposals. Three proposals were received, none of which met the “complete criteria” of Jameson’s advisory team or board leadership. Negotiations continued with the parties that submitted proposals but the new proposals “fell short,” Jameson officials said.

UPMC extended its offer through Dec. 31, 2015.

Jameson announced today that an arbitrator agreed the remarketing effort didn’t produce a qualified bid that would be an alternative to the UPMC proposal and met the qualifying criteria for serving the long-term needs of Lawrence County residents.

“The arbitration process has confirmed the board’s belief. We won this issue — and we are happy that the arbitrator agreed with us that none of the bids met the qualifications necessary to serve the interests of Lawrence County residents,” Lombardo said in the statement issued yesterday. “We are grateful to have received a favorable ruling that supports our goal to ensure a future of long-term access to high-quality health care for the 90,000-plus residents of Lawrence County.”

Jeff Johnson, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said state attorneys are “disappointed” decision but respected the outcome.

“We thought that our arguments were convincing and that there was evidence that two of the bids submitted through the remarketing process were suitable and met the criteria to move forward,” he said.

Jameson already has submitted a proposed consent decree to the attorney general’s office and urges state attorneys to “commence immediately” with the process of completing it, according to Jameson.

“We all share common goals to support the highest interests of Lawrence County’s health care consumers by growing and developing Jameson as a vital community asset,” Lombardo said. “Alongside our community stakeholders, we anxiously anticipate the timely completion of this process.”

A decision having been rendered, “We are tasked with working out a consent decree with UPMC that will allow this matter to move forward,” Johnson said. “We don’t have a specific timeline but I can tell you we hope to move as quickly as possible.”

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