Advocate Aurora-Atrium Deal Depends on Control Issues

However, board members have questions about control. Board member Dr Sanda Martell said at the meeting that the deal was not fully thought through and she had “serious concerns” about the board not having enough information.

Lawyers’ representatives responded to some of the questions asked on Tuesday, saying they could not be answered because the details had not yet been determined.

However, after a series of questions from board members about who, for example, would approve the purchase of a new hospital in Illinois, Advocate Aurora COO Bill Santulli responded that while the Illinois local board must first approve it, ultimately the decision will rest with Aurora’s general board. health.

Santulli said he would receive details from the state council on post-merger operations and controls.

“The board asked (Advocate Aurora officials) about how the operations would go and expressed their concerns about control” of the new system, said Tekenya Turner, field director of health systems for SEIU Healthcare Illinois, who opposes merging the systems. “They kind of danced around everything. It seemed that many issues had not yet been resolved. But that’s what the board was looking for.”

The state board first voted to reject and then instead voted to delay Aurora’s attorney’s application for a set of exceptions to change of ownership issues. The board may raise the issue again at its scheduled board meeting on Dec. 13 or find a way to address it sooner, said John Knery, administrator of the Illinois Healthcare and Services Review Board.

The lawyers were taken by surprise by the votes of the board.

“State law requires the Board of Supervisors to approve all applications for a certificate of exemption deemed completed by employees,” Advocate Aurora Health said in a statement. “Our application was declared completed last month; so we were surprised by today’s delay and will be working with the review team to answer their questions. Please be aware that we continue to work with other relevant regulators and remain confident that our association is still on track to close. by the end of the year.”

Knery said board members should follow his “rules, which were cut in 2015. Based on these rules, HFSRB staff concluded that the application complied with the letter of the law.”

The concern for local control is not limited to members of the supervisory board of medical institutions.

SEIU Healthcare Illinois sent a letter to the board against the merger, citing health care quality and cost issues, out-of-state controls, the withdrawal of resources from underserved communities in the Chicago area, and further reductions in services.

SEIU pointed to Advocate Aurora’s closure of pediatric units at both Illinois Masonic Medical Center and South Suburb Hospital, and said it recently received permission to permanently close South Suburb OB units, “depriving the South Side and South Suburb communities of one of the few maternity houses in the area. geography”.

“As mentioned above, we are concerned that out-of-state leaders may not recognize the intrinsic value of these facilities and their critical importance to the communities they serve,” the letter said.

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The Illinois Board of Supervisors is not the only regulatory agency that could consider the deal. Often, state attorneys general weigh hospital mergers for fear of local control and governance, as well as the loss of resources that could flow out of state if health system units or roles are merged, said Rex Burgdorfer, partner at the Chicago Health Advisory Service. Juniper advice.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raul’s office said they have no comment at this time.

The Federal Trade Commission is also looking at combinations of health care systems, Burgdorfer said, but with an eye to whether the deal will affect competitiveness and health care costs.

“We are working closely with the Federal Trade Commission to answer their questions about our proposed strategic merger with Atrium Health. We will continue to provide them with relevant information as we progress through this process,” Advocate Aurora said in a statement Wednesday.

However, Advocate Aurora’s Skogsberg shed more light on the FTC review during a keynote in Milwaukee this week, according to the Milwaukee Business Journal.

Speaking on the Milwaukee Business Journal Healthcare CEO Panel, Skogsberg said he hoped for an FTC decision within 60 days, or at least by the end of the year.

He said the FTC has requested additional information from both health systems, and “we have provided them with 2 million pages of documents,” according to a magazine article.

Skogsberg said the FTC’s request for more information was not unexpected given the size of the deal.

An FTC spokeswoman said the FTC is not commenting on alleged transactions or acknowledging investigations.

In North Carolina, Atrium Health said much the same thing.

“Out of respect for the process, we don’t want to comment or speculate about timelines or any potential roadblocks,” Atrium’s Fogelman said in an emailed statement. “We continue to provide information to various regulators who have requested it. We are of course looking forward to the completion of the FTC review, which is expected later this year.”

This story first appeared in our sister publication, Crane’s Chicago business.

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