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Deadline for Lifespan, Care New England application extended to March 31, 2010

Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch and Director of Health David R. Gifford, MD, MPH, announced today that they have granted Lifespan Corp.’s and Care New England Health Systems’ request for more time to complete their initial application to merge into what would be, if approved, Rhode Island’s largest hospital and health-care system.

Lifespan and CNE requested the extension Dec. 4. Prior to the extension, they had until this past Friday, Dec. 11, to provide information that the Attorney General’s Office and Department of Health had determined to be incomplete on Oct. 28.

AG Lynch and Dr. Gifford have granted the parties’ request for an extension until March 31, 2010, with several conditions.

Lynch and Gifford urged “regular, ongoing communication,” they said, between the applicants and state agencies; gave their own agencies an extra 20 days to determine if Lifespan’s and CNE’s final application, once submitted, is complete; encouraged Lifespan and CNE to submit missing information as soon as it becomes available rather than waiting until the new deadline; and stipulated that the applicants would not use the time extension as a basis to sue either state agency.

“Knowing how rigorous the Hospital Conversions Act is, realizing its effects on both applicants and regulators, we’ve tried to assist Lifespan and Care New England since they first proposed their idea to merge in July of 2007,” Lynch said. “Given the scale of the proposed merger, what it may mean for our economy and what it may mean to access to health care — which affects everybody’s quality of life — Dr. Gifford and I both want it to rise or fall on its merits. We know from our experience with the St. Joseph Health Service-Roger Williams Hospital affiliation that the law works. We hope that this extension of time will allow Lifespan and Care New England to complete their important work so that, ultimately, our offices can fully and properly evaluate the merger and determine if it is in Rhode Island’s best interests.”

“We are willing to work with both health-care systems so that all the necessary information is available when this goes out for public review,” said Dr. Gifford. “Given the amount of paperwork that needs to be submitted, we felt this request is reasonable.”

The Attorney General’s Office and DOH received the initial application on Sept. 28. They reviewed it jointly in October, notifying Lifespan and CNE that it was incomplete on Oct. 28.

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