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New Hampshire AG Rejects Proposed Mass. General Affiliation For 2 Hospitals

A proposal for two seacoast-area hospitals to affiliate themselves with Massachusetts General Hospital is unlawful because it likely will lead to unfair competition for some health care services, the New Hampshire Attorney General's office said Friday.

The office's Charitable Trusts Unit released its report on Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover and Exeter Health Resources, which includes Exeter Hospital.

"Exeter Hospital and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital are within 18 miles of each other and provide similar inpatient and outpatient services," the report said. It also said both hospitals own a significant number of health care professional practices. It said within the seacoast region, "there are a limited number of health care entities of size and breadth" similar to the two hospitals that also own health care professional services.

Last year, the two hospitals announced an agreement to create a new, not-for-profit organization that will serve as their parent company and will be part of the Mass General family. Hospital officials said the affiliation would expand access to services that they could not provide as stand-alone organizations.

The hospitals said in a joint statement that they welcome ongoing discussions with the attorney general's office.

"We expect, ultimately, to be able to demonstrate the many benefits of this transaction and that the concerns of the Attorney General's Office are wholly unfounded," they said.

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital was acquired by the Massachusetts General Hospital family in 2016. The statement said the hospital "has already experienced millions of dollars in savings while bringing increased access to high-quality specialized services to its patients" and adding 300 jobs.

The statement said the combined hospitals would be able to offer more specialized services, such as a Level II neonatal nursery.

"Currently, newborns needing this level of care must be transferred long distances and mothers and babies are often separated for days or weeks," it said.

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