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Will anyone buy local steward hospitals if the rent is not cut?
Will anyone buy local steward hospitals if the rent is not cut?

BROCKTON — As the new deadline approaches for submitting bids for the sale of Steward Health Care’s eight Massachusetts hospitals – including Good Samaritan in Brockton, Morton in Taunton and Saint Anne’s in Fall River – state senators called on the companies that own the facilities’ properties to make the deal more palatable to potential buyers.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, both Democrats, called on executives of Medical Properties Trust (MPT) and Macquarie Infrastructure Partners (MIP) to “offer long-term reductions in lease payments, early lease terminations or other concessions to ensure that new operators can be found to keep Stewards hospitals in Massachusetts ‘open and viable.'”

The senators’ concerns stem from fears that buyers will not be found, leaving the population that relies on the hospitals and the people who work there in limbo. Last month, Steward pushed back its bid deadline for Steward’s nine Massachusetts hospitals to July 15, according to court documents filed by the company, founded in Boston but now based in Dallas.

“The ability of these hospitals to emerge from bankruptcy under new ownership with stable finances will represent a significant victory for the public health of these communities and will enable their dedicated employees to continue to provide needed health care services.”

Steward sold hospital buildings and land in 2016

The hospitals are for sale, but Steward sold the buildings themselves and the land they stand on in 2016. The Massachusetts properties fetched $1.25 billion. Steward paid rent to the new owners until recently, before the struggling for-profit company defaulted on rent and filed for bankruptcy months later.

“MPT and MIP, along with years of mismanagement, private equity schemes and management’s greed for profit, played a significant role in Steward’s steep financial decline,” the senators said in their written statement.

The senators said Stewards’ leases with MPT and MIP accounted for the majority of Stewards’ debt and posed an ongoing threat to the hospitals’ operations.

“MPT originally paid $1.2 billion for the Steward hospitals and has apparently already received a substantial return on its investment – well over $1 billion – by selling half of its interest in the hospitals to MIP, in addition to paying rent and interest from Steward. Bankruptcy records show that Steward pays approximately $341 million annually in lease payments to MPT and MIP combined,” the senators said.

Rhode Island company could bid for Good Sam, St. Anne’s

According to WBUR, Lifespan Health of Rhode Island is considering making a bid for Good Sam and St. Anne’s. Lifespan plans to change its name to Brown University Health, the network announced in June.

State hotline for steward patients and employees

State regulatory agencies monitor Steward’s facilities. The state also has a dedicated phone line for patients and employees to report complaints. The number is 617-468-2189 or toll-free 833-305-2070.

The state also negotiated a deal to ease pressure on overwhelmed emergency rooms by making it cheaper for residents with health insurance to go to urgent care centers instead. From July 3 through October 1, health insurers will reimburse urgent care centers in Eastern Massachusetts for the cost of treating patients, even if the facility is out of network. The deal applies to Plymouth and Bristol counties, among others.

This letter explains the details.

Send your news tips to reporter Chris Helms by email at [email protected] or connect to X at @HelmsNews.

By Aurora