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Compromise ends West Virginia hospital merger challenge

January 24, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A legal challenge to a proposed West Virginia hospital merger has ended just before it was set to appear before the state Supreme Court of Appeals.

Years of litigation came to a sudden end Monday when Cabell Huntington Hospital and Steel of West Virginia agreed that Steel of West Virginia would withdraw its challenges to the hospital’s planned acquisition of St. Mary’s Medical Center, according to The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington.

Steel of West Virginia opposed the intended acquisition as it believed a merger would create a regional health care monopoly, boosting patient costs and while dropping the quality of care.

However, a joint statement from the companies says Steel of West Virginia backed off when Cabell Huntington promised to work with area businesses to improve overall workforce health and reduce incidents of hospitalization.

The five-justice panel asked why the disagreement, with arguments dating back to 2014, was abruptly dropped the night before the two cases were set to appear before the court. Steel of West Virginia attorney Carte Goodwin did not answer the query but instead apologized for the sudden change of plans.

This agreement would allow two of the Tri-State’s largest employers to merge. The Vatican must still approve the transfer of St. Mary’s ownership, which is held by the hospital’s founding Catholic sisterhood.

The newspaper’s requests for specifics of the planned merger have gone unanswered.

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Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, http://www.herald-dispatch.com

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