AG Extends Deadline For Steward To Close On Landmark To Sept. 30
Protracted deal hinges upon on-again, off-again talks between provider and Blue Cross, Blue Shield of RI.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin has again extended the closing deadline for Steward Healthcare, intended buyer of Landmark Medical Center, this time to Sept. 30.
In a letter dated Aug. 27, Deputy Attorney General Gerald J. Coyne informed Steward Healthcare the Attorney General was granting their request to extend the deadline to allow negotiations between the would-be rescuer of the hospital and Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI to continue.
The two parties remain in stalemate over the reimbursement rates Blue Cross will cover for claims from Landmark Medical Center.
"Part of the reason that a specific closing date was included as a condition of approval in this matter was a recognition of the fiscal challenges facing Landmark, and by extension the uncertainty and anxiety that people who utilize this facility, and who work at this facility, have lived with for many months," Coyne wrote to Steward's attorney Jeffrey F. Chase-Lubitz of Donoghue Barrett & Singal, PC.
The extension is contingent on two other points:
- Steward must provide the AG's office with an updated closing checkist by Aug. 31. Coyne's letter notes Steward has written there are other items needed before closing that, "...are outstanding and not yet satisfied." The absence of detail on those outstanding items, he said, raises concern, since it appears to refer to items not on a closing checklist already given to the AG's office.
- Steward should advise the AG's office no later than Sept. 12 if additional time is necessary to reach an agreement between Steward and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island.
"By seeking this extension, we assume that Steward has committed to providing Landmark with continuing financial assistance, through the new closure date requested. Candidly, an extension without such an assurance would make little sense," Coyne wrote.
The letter is the latest in a string of correspondence between the AG's office, Steward and Blue Cross outlining Kilmartin's attempts to keep both parties negotiating and on track with scheduled deadlines throughout a lengthy, challenging and, in the case of one letter from Steward Healthcare, heated, process (see attached .pdfs).
On Aug. 21, WPRI's Ted Nesi obtained a scathing letter from Steward Healthcare CEO Ralph de la Torre to Attorney General Peter Kilmartin criticizing him on his attempt to mediate the negotiations.
Nesi reported Kilmartin dismissed claims de la Torre makes in the Aug. 8 letter, 10 days after the AG extended the deadline set for finalizing Steward's deal to buy Landmark to Aug. 31.
Amy Kempe, public information officer for the AG's office, said the letter was, "...written by someone looking to re-write history."
de la Torre describes an Aug. 6 meeting between Kilmartin, Steward's negotiation team and Blue Cross Blue Shield officials, during which they first asked if the legal counsel for Blue Cross could leave the meeting, which Kilmartin refused, before attempting to phone in their own legal counsel, whose call Kilmartin would not take. "Thus your characterizations in the first two paragraphs of your Aug. 7 2012 letter are both misleading and bordering on behavior below your status as a prominent elected leader," de la Torre wrote.
Kempe declined to respond to specific points in de la Torre's letter, pointing instead to letters sent to Blue Cross and de la Torre throughout the dispute, including one referring to the Aug. 6 meeting.
In it, Kilmartin asks de la Torre to return to negotiations, telling him the Steward team left two and half hours into the meeting, saying they were acting on de la Torre's instructions. The decision to leave came shortly after Kilmartin asked both teams to break to come up with specific numbers to discuss, to eat and to check in with thier authorities, according to Kilmartin's letter.
"Dr. de la Torre, Steward has raised the expectations of Landmark, the greater Woonsocket area, every branch of Rhode Island government, and, indeed, the state as a whole. I am confident Steward can live up to the expectations it set," Kilmartin wrote.
Steward has since continued negotiations with Blue Cross Blue Shield.
On Aug. 1, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island President and CEO Peter Andruszkiewicz spoke with the Providence Business News, countering claims in recent ads bought by Steward in the Providence Journal, Woonsocket Call and Providence Business News during their fight with the insurer over reimbursement rates paid to Landmark Medical Center.
In particular, Andruszkiewicz said Landmark has an average of 10 patients a day who are Blue Cross members. He said it's hard to believe the reimbursement on those patients will make the difference in Landmark's survival.