Federal regulators have greenlighted a proposed merger between Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems and Portland’s Mercy Health System of Maine.
The Federal Trade Commission notified EMHS this week that regulators have completed an antitrust review of the proposed deal, Suzanne Spruce, an EMHS spokeswoman, said Friday. The commission granted EMHS and Mercy an early termination of a 30-day waiting period during which regulators could have raised objections to the planned merger.
Before moving forward, the deal still needs approval from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and, because Mercy is a Catholic health organization, the approval of the Vatican.
This week’s resignation of Pope Benedict is not expected to delay the Vatican review, Spruce said.
Mercy and EMHS anticipate completing the merger during the second half of 2013, she said.
In January, EMHS and Mercy announced they had signed a “definitive agreement” in which Mercy and all of its divisions will be integrated into the Brewer-based EMHS. The health systems signed a nonbinding letter of intent on Dec. 7, after Mercy’s planned deal with Steward Health Care System, a for-profit Massachusetts hospital chain, fell through.
Mercy, a member of Pennsylvania-based Catholic Health East, would maintain its Catholic identity under the agreement. Mercy runs the 230-bed Mercy Hospital in Portland as well as a newer health care campus on Portland’s Fore River. The Mercy system also operates VNA Home Health Hospice in South Portland, an addiction treatment center in Westbrook and primary and urgent care centers.
EMHS is the parent company of seven hospitals in Maine, including Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, and operates several nursing homes and hospice organizations.