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Will anyone buy Brockton, Taunton, Fall River hospitals saddled with millions in rent?
Will anyone buy Brockton, Taunton, Fall River hospitals saddled with millions in rent?
Will anyone buy Brockton, Taunton, Fall River hospitals saddled with millions in rent?

Published on: 07/09/2024

Description

BROCKTON — As a new deadline for bids looms for Steward Health Care to sell its eight Massachusetts hospitals — including Good Samaritan in Brockton, Morton in Taunton and Saint Anne's in Fall River — the state's senators urged the companies who own the facilities' real estate to sweeten the deal for prospective buyers.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, both Democrats, asked executives of Medical Properties Trust (MPT) and Macquarie Infrastructure Partners (MIP) to "offer long-term reductions in lease payments, early termination of leases, or other concessions to ensure that new operators can be found to keep Steward’s Massachusetts hospitals "open and viable."

The senators' concerns come amid worries that buyers won't come forward, leaving residents who rely on the hospitals and the people who work at them in limbo. Last month, Steward pushed back its bid deadline for Steward's nine Massachusetts hospitals to July 15, according to court documents filed by the Boston-born but now Dallas-based company.

“The ability of these hospitals to emerge from bankruptcy under new ownership with stable finances will represent a significant public health victory for these communities, allowing their dedicated workers to continue to provide needed health care services."

The hospitals are up for sale, but Steward sold the buildings themselves and the land on which they sit back in 2016. The Massachusetts properties fetched $1.25 billion. Until recently, Steward paid rent to the new owners, before the troubled for-profit company stopped being able to pay rent and, months later, declared bankruptcy.

"MPT and MIP played an important role in Steward’s steep financial decline, in addition to years of mismanagement, private equity schemes, and executive profiteering," the senators said in the written statement.

The senators said Steward's lease arrangements with MPT and MIP make up the vast majority of the Stewards’ debt and present an ongoing threat to the operations of the hospitals.

"MPT initially paid $1.2 billion for the Steward hospitals and appears to have already received a substantial return on its investment – well over $1 billion – from selling half of its stake in the hospitals to MIP, in addition to rent and interest payments from Steward. Bankruptcy documents reveal that Steward pays approximately $341 million annually in lease payments to MPT and MIP together," according to the senators. 

Lifespan Health of Rhode Island is considering bidding on Good Sam and St. Anne's, according to WBUR. Lifespan plans to change its name to Brown University Health, the network announced in June.

Watchdogs for the state have been monitoring Steward facilities. The commonwealth also has a dedicated phone line for patients or workers if they have complaints. The number is 617-468-2189 or toll-free at 833-305-2070.

The state also brokered a deal to take pressure off overrun emergency rooms by making it cheaper for residents with health insurance to go to urgent care centers instead. From July 3 through Oct. 1, health plans will reimburse urgent care centers in Eastern Massachusetts for treating patients, even if the facility is out-of-network. The deal applies to Plymouth and Bristol counties, among others.

The move expands rights already enjoyed by people using Signature Healthcare's three urgent care centers in Brockton and East Bridgewater. Residents on Medicaid and some other health plans have had a similar waiver in place since Brockton Hospital closed from a fire and opened the urgent care centers, said Lorraine McGrath, associate vice president of marketing and communications for Signature.

This letter explains the details.

Send your news tips to reporter Chris Helms by email at [email protected] or connect on X at @HelmsNews.

News Source : https://www.enterprisenews.com/story/news/healthcare/2024/07/08/steward-health-care-ma-hospitals-good-samaritan-brockton-morton-taunton-saint-annes-fall-river/74313438007/

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