STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today approved legislation sponsored by Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio and Rep. David A. Bennett to strengthen the Hospital Conversions Act by requiring a review of each proposed hospital conversion to ensure that it complies with antitrust laws.

The measure will help protect the public and the integrity of Rhode Island’s health care system as large hospital networks increasingly move to acquire hospitals and smaller networks.

“Like many industries, hospitals have experienced a great deal of consolidation in the last several decades. Antitrust laws are meant to protect the public from situations where a single entity has too much control in a segment or region. Compliance with those laws is an important piece of the puzzle that the state should be considering whenever the conversion of a hospital is proposed,” said President Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, Providence, North Providence). “This bill will provide a meaningful review of antitrust issues, which ultimately protects patients and the critical health care industry as a whole.”

Said Representative Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), “What this boils down to is protecting the quality of health care in Rhode Island. We want to make sure that we don’t allow a situation where one corporation controls the majority of our state’s hospitals and slashes the resources available to patients here. This will help ensure that patients can access the facilities they need when they need them.”

The legislation (2020-S 2572, 2020-H 7652), which was introduced on behalf of Attorney General Peter F. Neronha, would allow compliance with the state’s antitrust laws to be considered as a criterion in the Attorney General’s review of proposed hospital conversions. As such, the cost of conducting that review could be passed on to the transacting parties, rather than absorbed by the Attorney General’s office and ultimately taxpayers.

"Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring a safe, accessible and affordable health care system for all Rhode Islanders is a critically important function of the AttorneY General's Office. This bill will help ensure that hospital conversions are vetted for antitrust issues as hospital consolidations have significant implications for both affordability and access. I am grateful to the Senate President, Representative Bennett and the General Assembly for advancing this important legislation," said Attorney General Neronha.

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