Study finds Lifespan-CNE merger would boost R.I. academic medicine industry

PROVIDENCE – An independent study commissioned by Brown University found that Rhode Island trails most of its neighboring states in the academic medicine industry.

According to the study, carried out by Missouri-based consulting firm Tripp Umbach, the proposed merger between Lifespan Corp. and Care New England Health System, which would integrate the two companies into an academic health system with Brown University, would boost this industry in the state.

The study found that Rhode Island has a larger-than-average higher education sector, and that Brown’s medical, public health and engineering programs perform comparably with the economic impact of medical schools elsewhere in New England.

But Rhode Island lags peer states in the size of its academic medicine industry, trailing all New England states except for Connecticut in total higher education, health care and biomedical employment.

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In Rhode Island, 14.6% of total employment is engaged in academic medicine, compared with Massachusetts, which leads New England states at 20.1%.

According to the study, the merger could create 10,000 jobs by 2035 and increase the economic impact of this sector by $3.3 billion from 2020 to 2035.

The potential benefits of the merger have proved controversial over the years, with Lifespan and Care New England attempting to merge four times since the 1990s. In summer 2021, the R.I. Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner released a report stating that the merger presents “a compelling set of opportunities,” but also points out risks such as inconclusive evidence that mergers improve quality.

The merger would need approval from the R.I. Department of Health, R.I. Office of the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission to move forward.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. Contact her at Voghel@PBN.com.

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