Hospital operators set acquisition sights on New Jersey

New Jersey has become an attractive market for for-profit hospital operators, with two firms actively bidding on facilities, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

Ontario, Calif.-based Prime Healthcare Services and Philadelphia-based Hudson Hospital Holdco both submitted bids to acquire St. Clare's Health System, which operates three hospitals in northern New Jersey. Prime already is in process to acquire two other hospitals in the state.

However, Prime, a for-profit that has been under state and federal investigation for billing practices at its California properties, has raised the concerns of lawmakers, according to the article.

"Recognizing this as a trend nationwide … for-profit hospitals that maintain missions and commitments to these communities may need to be examined as an option to hospital closings, but only if the focus is not on making money but on quality," New Jersey Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver told the Star-Ledger.

Prime also has recently come to terms with the labor union at another New Jersey property it is trying to acquire, St. Mary's Hospital in Passaic, according to NJ Spotlight.

A battle has brewed over the sale of Saint Mary's, with Prime suing one of Holdco's owners, claiming he is trying to keep the company, which operates 23 hospitals in California and four other states, out of New Jersey, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Last spring, Holdco purchased New Jersey's Christ Hospital--about a month after Prime pulled out of the purchase deal because of opposition from the community.

For more:
- read the Star-Ledger article
- here's the NJ Spotlight article