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IU Health, Howard Regional call off merger talks

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The planned merger of Indiana University Health and Kokomo’s Howard Regional Health System is now dead, the two hospitals announced Monday.

The integration of the two not-for-profit hospital systems was approved by Howard Regional's board in late May. At the time, Howard Regional officials said they needed the economies of scale of a larger system because of deteriorating demographics in its trade area and the threat of lower reimbursement from the 2010 health reform law.

But now Howard CEO Jim Alender is citing the uncertainty of health reform as the reason for cutting off discussions with IU Health.

“There are several reasons we changed our strategic direction,” Alender said in a prepared statement released Monday. “Many of these relate to the uncertainty surrounding health care reform and the long-term forecast for the health care industry. We know change is coming, but we do not know the form of these changes given the ongoing debates in Washington and the litigation over health care reform.”

IU Health CEO Dan Evans said the two hospitals will continue to work in partnership.

IU Health had been on an acquisition streak in the past year, combining with Morgan Hospital & Health Center in Martinsville and signing agreements with White County Memorial Hospital in Monticello as well as Howard Regional.

These smaller hospitals say they need IU Health’s help recruiting physicians, particularly specialists, as well as help in bearing the costs of sophisticated electronic medical record systems, which the federal government is now effectively mandating.

IU Health is interested in securing a steady stream of patients to keep its massive hospitals in downtown Indianapolis humming, as well as earning profits at outlying hospitals to support the downtown campuses.

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  1. These liberals are out of control. They want to drive our economy into the ground and double and triple our electric bills. Sierra Club, stay out of Indy!

  2. These activist liberal judges have gotten out of control. Thankfully we have a sensible supreme court that overturns their absurd rulings!

  3. Maybe they shouldn't be throwing money at the IRL or whatever they call it now. Probably should save that money for actual operations.

  4. For you central Indiana folks that don't know what a good pizza is, Aurelio's will take care of that. There are some good pizza places in central Indiana but nothing like this!!!

  5. I am troubled with this whole string of comments as I am not sure anyone pointed out that many of the "high paying" positions have been eliminated identified by asterisks as of fiscal year 2012. That indicates to me that the hospitals are making responsible yet difficult decisions and eliminating heavy paying positions. To make this more problematic, we have created a society of "entitlement" where individuals believe they should receive free services at no cost to them. I have yet to get a house repair done at no cost nor have I taken my car that is out of warranty for repair for free repair expecting the government to pay for it even though it is the second largest investment one makes in their life besides purchasing a home. Yet, we continue to hear verbal and aggressive abuse from the consumer who expects free services and have to reward them as a result of HCAHPS surveys which we have no influence over as it is 3rd party required by CMS. Peel the onion and get to the root of the problem...you will find that society has created the problem and our current political landscape and not the people who were fortunate to lead healthcare in the right direction before becoming distorted. As a side note, I had a friend sit in an ED in Canada for nearly two days prior to being evaluated and then finally...3 months later got a CT of the head. You pay for what you get...

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