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Coakley Submits Amended Partners Agreement Capping Hallmark Prices

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has submitted an amended agreement Thursday with Partners HealthCare over its proposed acquisition of Hallmark Health System.

The original agreement sanctioned Partners HealthCare to acquire South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Health System. Coakley says the amended agreement, which would cap prices at Hallmark for six and a half years, ensures the merger won't increase health care costs in the state.

Under the re-negotiated agreement, Partners has also agreed to maintain the current level of psychiatric behavioral health services at Hallmark and North Shore facilities for five years.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet Saunders is scheduled to consider the amended agreement at a hearing Monday. If approved, the settlement would resolve the attorney general's anti-trust investigation into Partners and allow the merger and acquisition to go forward.

The agreement went back to the negotiating table after Massachusetts' Health Policy Commission said the deal would raise the cost of medical spending in the region by an estimated $15.5 million to $23 million per year for three major commercial payers. Partners owns North Shore Medical Center and Hallmark Health System has two hospitals and about 400 physicians.

With reporting by State House News Service and the WBUR Newsroom

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