Health Merger Nixed After New Hampshire AG Objects

Two health care providers based in New Hampshire, Dartmouth Health and GraniteOne Health are ditching their plans to merge after objections from the state’s attorney general, who said the consolidation would result in higher healthcare prices.

New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella issued a report saying the merger would have turned two competitors into a single health system controlled by Dartmouth, effectively eliminating market competition and incentives to keep healthcare costs low for consumers.

“Free, fair and robust competition is critical to providing employers and patients with options for lower cost and high quality healthcare services,” said Formella. “Our state has experienced significant consolidation in healthcare over the past several years, and this transaction seeking to combine two of our top four largest systems is unacceptable without appropriate protections for consumers in place.”

New Hampshire law requires the Charitable Trusts Unit to review proposals of this nature and determine whether, among other requirements, the transaction is permitted by applicable law. Formella said the proposal failed that primary requirement.

Part 2, Article 83 of the New Hampshire Constitution requires “free and fair competition in the trades and industries.” In addition, RSA 356, the State’s Antitrust law, and RSA 358-A, the Consumer Protection Act, all protect free and fair competition. After a fact-intensive review by the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau, Formella concluded the completion of the merger would have violated the law based on those grounds.

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