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Care New England, Lifespan Sign Merger Agreement

Analysis  |  By Jack O'Brien  
   February 23, 2021

The announcement marks the culmination of years-long discussions regarding potential mergers, partnerships, and collaboration opportunities.

Care New England (CNE) and Lifespan signed a definitive agreement to merge, the two Rhode Island-based health systems announced Tuesday morning.

The two provider organizations voted to move forward with merger talks by signing a letter of intent in September. 

As part of the agreement, CNE, Lifespan, and Brown University will form an integrated academic health system. Brown has committed $125 million over five years and has included its Warren Alpert Medical School as part of the deal.

"Brown is excited to invest $125 million over five years to bring together the medical expertise and capacity needed to create exactly the kind of integrated academic health system that has provided such dramatic success in healthcare, medical education and biomedical innovation for other regions across the country," Samuel Mencoff, chancellor of the Corporation of Brown University, said in a statement.

The announcement marks the culmination of years-long discussions regarding potential mergers, partnerships, and collaboration opportunities.

Merger talks first began in early 2018, as CNE, Lifespan, and Mass General Brigham, (then-Partners HealthCare), engaged in discussions.

By October 2018, Lifespan had pulled out of discussions but Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo ordered a new round of merger talks between CNE and Lifespan in June 2019.

One month later, CNE called off merger talks due to several organizational factors, though Raimondo stated in August 2019 that she believed the deal failed due to disagreements about who would serve as CEO of the merged organization.

In June 2020, as both systems collaborated on providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic, merger talks resumed.

"What I am most excited about is the ability of our new, locally based, academic health system to compete at a national level, innovate, attract top talent, develop new scientific knowledge, improve the care we deliver and serve as an economic engine for Providence and the state," Timothy J. Babineau, M.D., CEO of Lifespan, said in a statement. "This is an exciting moment-in-time, we cannot let it slip through our grasp yet again.”

According to, a website established to outline the merger's objectives, CNE and Lifespan have pledged an additional $10 million in community care funding as part of the deal.     

"The positive reaction that we’ve seen, really across the board, to the creation of this new system has been outstanding," James E. Fanale, M.D., CEO of CNE, said in a statement. "Our partners across the region, especially our internal colleagues and physicians, really support this because it’s a very exciting proposition. Creating something new and visionary, but with concrete goals and true work plans, sets the integrated AHS up to achieve high quality care with local access for the people that we serve. It is something to be proud of."

The transaction requires state and federal regulatory approvals, which the three organizations anticipate will take several months.  

Jack O'Brien is the Content Team Lead and Finance Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.

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