Maine health merger on hold

Posted April 19, 2010, at 5:47 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A plan to merge southern Maine’s two largest cardiology practices with Maine Medical Center is on hold.

Under the proposed merger, Maine Medical Center owner MaineHealth would hire the 40 cardiologists now with South Portland-based Maine Cardiology Associates, and Cardiovascular Consultants of Maine, based in Scarborough. The Maine Sunday Telegram says the merger’s being put on hold because of concerns about reduced competition and antitrust challenges.

The merger is an example of a trend in the nation’s medical industry. Private-practice physicians are trading their independence for a salary from the hospitals where they do much of their work.

The trend is sparking debate about whether competition or consolidation is the best way to deliver care and contain costs.