Mass. General Drops Exeter Acquisition Bid After N.H. AG Raises Antitrust Concerns

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) announced that it will end efforts to acquire and affiliate with Exeter Health Resources, according to a Seacoastonline article by Alexander LaCasse. Wednesday’s news forecloses the possibility of a merger, which would have brought New Hampshire’s Exeter Hospital under the same leadership as the nearby Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover.

Reportedly, MGH told Exeter that it was discontinuing its merger pursuit at the beginning of December. Since then, the parties have spent time managing and maintaining their affiliation until MGH formally opted out of the deal.

Speaking about MGH’s dropped bid, Mark Whitney, Exeter’s vice president of strategic planning, expressed frustration. According to Seacoastonline, he said, “Mass General’s decision to no longer pursue the affiliation is very disappointing to us because this was our vision when we approached them three years ago with the opportunity to do something special for delivering healthcare on the Seacoast.” Whitney reportedly explained that since December 2019, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Exeter believed the merger was proceeding through the federal regulatory process.

Formal opposition first stemmed from the attorney general’s office in September 2019, Seacoastonline reported. Purportedly, then-Attorney General Gordon MacDonald expressed concern over the hospital consolidation.

In particular, MacDonald reasoned that the hospitals’ multiple, overlapping services may further increase health care costs, already allegedly some of the highest in the nation. At the time, as reported, MacDonald said, “(t)his transaction implicates our laws protecting free and fair competition and therefore threatens even higher health care costs to be borne by New Hampshire consumers.”