The New Hampshire Attorney General has paved the road for the merger of Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH), despite competition concerns.  

In a media release on 1 April, Attorney General John Formella stated that the Charitable Trusts Unit and Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau have concluded their review of the deal.  

The investigation initially indicated a risk of reduced competition and a potential monopoly in Sullivan County’s inpatient acute care sector.  

To address these concerns, the Attorney General negotiated terms with the involved parties to mitigate potential consumer harm.  

D-HH is a New Hampshire-based health system that includes multiple hospitals and physician practices. Valley Regional Hospital, a critical access facility, serves patients in Sullivan County. 

The negotiated proposed Final Judgment includes prohibitions on anti-competitive contracting with insurers, protections for medical staff against restrictive covenants, and mandates against interfering with patient referrals and treatment choices.  

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Furthermore, D-HH and Valley Regional Hospital will be required to create a Clinical Services Growth Plan to expand services in Claremont. They will annually report on their adherence to the Final Judgment’s terms.  

D-HH has also committed to paying $2m to the Health Care Consumer Protection Trust Fund, which benefits state health care consumers. 

Formella said: “D-HH has agreed to make enforceable commitments to protect competition and maintain and expand services in the Claremont community as part of this transaction to acquire Valley Regional Hospital. 

“Dartmouth will fund the remaining necessary capital to build a new medical office building at VRH, and it will fund and operate an addiction treatment centre at the VRH campus for at least ten years. Dartmouth has also agreed to maintain essential services at VRH for at least ten years.” 

The Attorney General has filed the proposed Final Judgment in the Merrimack County Superior Court.  

These terms, if cleared by the Merrimack County Superior Court, will ensure the deal’s promised benefits reach the Claremont community.