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Several lawmakers voice concern on Prisma Health hospital acquisitions

The lawmakers say the Midlands risk a healthcare "monopoly" if acquisitions continue

COLUMBIA, S.C. — This week, Prisma Health announced it would acquire additional healthcare facilities in a deal which has some lawmakers worried.

Prisma Health announced it would acquire Providence Health and Providence Health Northeast in Richland County.

KershawHealth in Kershaw County will also become a part of Prisma Health.

Richland County Representative Kirkman Finlay said he had his concerns with the announcement.

“Well I think there's going to be a fair amount of regulatory scrutiny, I mean, let's be honest. The Prisma merger was not a merger, it was an acquisition. We've seen a lot of job loss in the local market, I presume that this will continue. Look, that's part of the deal, but let's be honest with everybody,” Finlay said of the deal.

Finlay also expressed concerns with one provider providing most of the care in the area.

He joined a growing list of nine senators whom questioned the deal on the Senate floor on Thursday.

“I am standing here today to voice my concern and outrage over what's going, with what I'm calling healthcare monopoly,” said Senator Darrell Jackson, (D) Richland.

RELATED: Prisma Health purchase of KershawHealth could impact EMS service in Kershaw County

RELATED: Prisma Health acquires Providence Hospitals, Kershaw Health

During Jackon’s lengthy speech, eight other senators asked various questions, which they used to express statements on the deal.

“To a substantial degree I share your concerns about the consolidation, especially, among non-profit hospitals and the effects that those consolidations have on patients,” said Senator Wes Climer, (R) York.

“I share your concerns about Prisma Health and the consolidation of our healthcare system,” said Senator Mia McLeod, (D) Richland.

Senators Thomas Corbin, (R) Greenville, Dwight Loftis, (R) Greenville, Shane Martin, (R) Spartanburg, Margie Bright Matthews, (D) Colleton, Nikki Setzler, (D) Lexington, and John Scott, (D) Richland, expressed concern with the announcement.

In a statement, Richland County Representative Todd Rutherford, (D) Richland, wrote:

“Prisma buying Providence will have a devastating impact on Columbia and the surrounding area. Because PRISMA is masquerading as a nonprofit it will immediately take three million dollars from the school children of Richland County. Additionally, with a new round of layoffs this consolidation will devastate our economy while jeopardizing our quality of care. This merger is truly disconcerting and one that I think will hurt our community. As we move forward, I look forward to working with other elected officials and community leaders to blunt this devastation."

In the statement announcing the acquisition, Prisma Health said it would incorporate the facilities into Prisma Health Midlands.

"Bringing KershawHealth and Providence Health into Prisma Health would advance our efforts to create a better state of health for South Carolina," Prisma said Friday. "Prisma Health would be serving patients closer to home in Kershaw County, Fairfield County and northeast Richland County with inpatient and outpatient facilities and physician practices.

"We would expand our implementation of one electronic medical record across all Prisma Health facilities and practices, which helps physicians and nurses better coordinate clinical care and provides patients with easy access to all their health information."

"Our physicians and nurses are developing a single rising level of quality for our patients, which would be deployed across all Prisma Health facilities and practice locations. Our patients would have a consistent high level of quality and service regardless of which Prisma Health location they choose."

Prisma also said the Department of Health and Environmental Control expanded Prisma Health’s certificate to operate, including the new hospitals, on February 28th of this year.

Governor Henry McMaster’s office said the Governor was briefed on the deal, but had no say in its approval, adding the authority laid with DHEC.

A spokesman in McMaster’s office said they knew of no indication of potential layoffs.

WLTX has reached out to DHEC  for more information.

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