Today, Legal Voice joined 12 of our allies in urging Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum not to fast track a merger between Providence Health & Services and St. Joseph Health.
The proposed transaction involves nearly 50 hospitals in six states (Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana, California, and Texas). The two Catholic health systems have requested a waiver from the standard process for reviewing hospital merger transactions. We have called on the AG’s office to deny this waiver request, and proceed with the full review process to ensure the transaction preserves existing health care services and benefits the public interest. California’s Attorney General has already rejected a similar waiver request for this same proposed transaction, and we are hopeful that Oregon will follow suit. Our main concern in this merger, as a merger involving religiously affiliated hospital systems, is that restrictive policies based on the Ethical and Religious Directives, rather than evidence-based policies, will limit patients’ access to comprehensive health care—including end-of-life care, reproductive health, and discrimination-free care for LGBT patients.
The state’s review process would include a public hearing. Since many areas in the affected states have only one hospital available, choosing another provider from whom to seek services simply is not an option. We are also urging the Attorney General to prepare an independent health care impact statement to specifically assess the effect of the transaction on reproductive health services.
The letter was submitted on behalf of ACLU of Oregon, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, Catholics for Choice, Compassion & Choices, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Legal Voice, MergerWatch, NARAL Pro Choice Oregon, National Health Law Program, Northwest Health Law Advocates, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Pride Foundation, and Western States Center.