Steward to pull out of Landmark deal, lawyer says

After years of pursing the Woonsocket, R.I., hospital, Steward Health Care System is likely to drop the Landmark Medical Center merger deal, Landmark's court-appointed special master Jonathan Savage wrote in a court filing Tuesday, reported.

The state tax division filed a brief last month, demanding that the already struggling Landmark pay overdue licensing fees and a penalty, totaling $6.1 million.

However, Savage said, "[I]t would be illogical and shortsighted to approve an administrative payment that would cause the demise of Landmark," Providence Business News reported.

Landmark spokesman Bill Fischer said there's no formal withdrawal on Steward's part, although Savage said it's unlikely Steward will stay on.

During its courtship with Landmark, the Boston-based for-profit hospital system backed legislation, pushing the state to allow for-profit companies to buy more than one hospital in a three-year period. With recent efforts to bring on community hospitals under its umbrella, Steward now has 11 hospitals in its network.

The Steward-Landmark deal was critical to Woonsocket's survival, according to the city economic director, Valley Breeze Newspapers reported. The merger was expected to bring in $20 million worth of renovations and $2.85 million in annual taxes for the city, the newspaper noted.

Landmark could announce a new buyer as early as this week, Fischer told the Breeze. Although he declined to name the other bidder, he said Landmark is in "significant discussions with another healthcare entity, and we are moving forward with them."

Steward could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

For more information:
- here's the article
- read the Providence Business News article
- see the Valley Breeze Newspapers article

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