Steward offers $1.1B for beleaguered Jackson Health

Steward Health Care System, the Boston-based for-profit hospital operator that bought the six Caritas Christi hospitals last year for $895 million, is looking to expand its empire further. Monday, it made a $1.1 billion offer to buy the ailing Jackson Health System in Miami, including $500 million to cover debt, the Boston Globe reports.

Like the Caritas Christi hospitals, Jackson Health, which has served as a safety net system for the poor and uninsured, is a hospital operator with few options. The system could run out of cash by July, the Miami Herald reports. Jackson lost $244 million in FY 2009 and $105 million in FY 2010.

In a non-binding letter of intent, Steward offered to assume all responsibility for Jackson's operations, but tempered its ambitions, saying the Public Health Trust would continue to play a role.

Trust members seemed confused over the potential deal, unsure whether it was a sale proposal or more of a public-private partnership.

Steward's offer could draw other investors out of the woodwork.

Steward asked for a 60-day period of exclusivity in which it would be the only organization allowed to examine Jackson's books before making a firm offer. After 60 days, Steward would develop a proposal and give the Trust 30 days to shop around for other offers. "Timing is of the essence," the Steward letter said. "We believe that any delay in the timeline imperils JHS."

To learn more:
- read the Boston Globe article
- here's the Miami Herald article

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