DOJ: News Release

Department of Justice Releases Annual Review of Great Falls Hospital Merger

HELENA – The Department of Justice released its preliminary annual review of the Great Falls hospital merger Tuesday. The report is authorized by the Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) that approved the consolidation of the Montana Deaconess Medical Center and Columbus Hospital in 1996.

The progress report allows the Department of Justice to evaluate the impact of hospital consolidation on availability, cost effectiveness, quality and delivery of health care services. It also allows the department to determine whether Benefis Healthcare has complied with the terms and conditions of the COPA.

The report concluded that Benefis has satisfied revenue cap requirements for 2001 and continues to offer prices lower than other large and medium-sized Montana hospitals. It also commended Benefis for passing along merger-related savings to Montana consumers through lower prices and increased charity care.

At the same time, the Department of Justice “urges Benefis to work toward stabilizing the effects of consolidation on its workforce and its patients.”

The Department of Justice will accept public comment on the preliminary findings until January 10, 2003. Comments should address the extent to which the consolidation has affected hospital-based health care costs, quality of health care services provided by the hospital and accessibility of health care services. Comments may be sent to the Agency Legal Services Division, Montana Department of Justice, 1712 Ninth Ave., P.O. Box 201440, Helena, MT 59620-1440.

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