Bill introduced to add employment, pension, community impact review to Lifespan-CNE merger

Front row, from left, Charles Reppucci, chairman of the Care New England Board of Directors, Lawrence A. Aubin, Sr., chairman of the Lifespan board of directors, and Samuel Mencoff, chancellor of the Corporation of Brown University. Back row, from left: Dr. James E. Fanale, Care New England president and CEO, Dr. Jack A. Elias, dean of The Warren Alpert Medical School, Dr. Timothy J. Babineau, Lifespan president and CEO and Christina H. Paxson, president of Brown University./COURTESY LIFESPAN/BILL MURPHY

PROVIDENCE – A proposal by a state legislative leader would expand the required state review of the proposed merger between Lifespan Corp. and Care New England Health System to include inquiries into issues such as any unfunded employee pension obligations, continued level of services, and planned employment levels.

The amendment to the Hospital Conversion Act was introduced Thursday by R.I. Senate Majority Leader Michael J. McCaffrey, D-Warwick. McCaffrey could not be reached immediately for comment on Friday.

His bill, S-0443, would also prohibit an expedited review of the merger agreement, although a spokesman for Lifespan said Friday that the entities were not requesting one.

The merger agreement, finalized on Monday, will mesh the Lifespan and Care New England systems together in an integrated health care system, along with support from Brown University, which has pledged at least $125 million toward the effort over five years.

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The nonprofit entities are among the largest private employers in Rhode Island. Between them, they operate eight hospitals and employ nearly 24,000 people.

In a news release, McCaffrey said his intention is not to “stop the merger, which indeed may be in the best interests of the state and its health care system, but to ensure full disclosure and a thorough review process by experts on staff and retained through the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Health.”

His first concern, he said, is for Kent Hospital. The community hospital is a valued employer in Warwick, he said, and it’s where many residents turn first for their health care needs.

The bill he introduced would request a review, among other issues, of five years of post-merger employment levels and whether any clinical, social or medical services would be reassigned or reduced among the hospitals in the network.

McCaffrey’s legislation also seeks to have community impact statements for both pre- and post-merger.

The Hospital Conversion Act is the framework by which the R.I. Department of Health and the R.I. Attorney General’s Office will conduct their concurrent reviews of the merger. It has been amended several times since it was established.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Lifespan said the entities involved in the merger will comply with any regulatory requirements. “We understand and appreciate the need for a transparent process and we will comply fully with all regulatory requirements,” said Kathleen Hart.

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at

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