By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – In a Superior Court filing on Tuesday asking for more leeway in paying Rhode Island more than $5 million owed in state hospital licensing fees, Special Master Jonathan N. Savage said that he no longer expects for-profit Steward Health Care to move ahead with its deal to buy Landmark Medical Center.
The court filing was in response to a brief filed by David M. Sullivan, Tax Administrator for the state’s Division of Taxation, seeking to compel Landmark to pay the overdue licensing fee.
Savage argued that given the age of the case, which has gone on for more than four years, and the massive effort to return Landmark to financial liability, “it would be illogical and shortsighted to approve an administrative payment that would cause the demise of Landmark.”
Savage continued: “In view of the apparent withdrawal of Steward Health Care as the purchased of the hospital assets, it is essential that the special master have additional time to negotiate a sale to another prospective purchaser.”
Bill Fischer, spokesman for the special master, told Providence Business News that there has been no formal withdrawal by Steward. “I want to stress, that as of this morning [Sept. 26], Steward has not formally withdrawn from this process. The Sept. 30 deadline is still looming.”
Fischer explained that Savage, as special master, had an obligation to prepare for a contingency plan, in case the deal with Steward fell through. ”We have a Plan B in place if the Steward acquisition fails to reach a successful conclusion,” Fischer said.
Fischer indicated that there have been “significant and extremely productive” ongoing conversations with another entity to purchase Landmark if the Steward deal falls through.
“We want to assure our patients and our employees that we have a contingency plan in place preserve this institution, with our without Steward,” Fischer said. “I think it’s important for Landmark to look forward.”