LEWISTOWN - The full merger and integration of Lewistown Hospital with Geisinger Health System received final approval from the Pennsylvania Attorney General and the Pennsylvania Department of Health on Monday.
"This merger with Geisinger ensures that a strong, nonprofit health care system, focused on patients, remains in Lewistown," said Kay Hamilton, hospital president and CEO. "I thank the Attorney General and Department of Health for their review, as well as the community for its support of our hospital."
In order for the merger to successfully take place, Geisinger was required to sign an eight-year agreement in response to the Attorney General's anti-trust concerns in regard to Mifflin and Juniata counties.
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
The sun sets behind a sign for Lewistown Hospital at the Fourth Street entrance Monday evening in Lewistown. The full merger and integration of Lewistown Hospital with Geisinger Health System received final approval from the Pennsylvania Attorney General and the Pennsylvania Department of Health on Monday.
"Access and price are most important to consumers when it comes to health care," said Attorney General Kathleen Kane. "Consumers want to be able to see their physicians and obtain quality hospital services locally, regardless of what insurance card they carry in their wallet. They also want reasonable prices for health care services."
Geisinger has agreed that no arbitrary price increases will be made for hospital and physician services; future contracts will be negotiated in good faith within a range paid to similar hospitals and physicians; and that Lewistown Hospital will continue to be operated as an acute care hospital for at least eight years.
The agreement also states that Lewistown's employed primary care physicians can leave Geisinger's employ up to two years after the merger with no restrictions for continuing to practice in Mifflin and Juniata counties, and that health plan contracts for Lewistown Hospital and its employed physician group will be maintained for the remainder of their terms while Geisinger continues allowing health plans to offer tiered health care products.
This agreement between the Attorney General and Geisinger Health System ensures regional access to quality and affordable healthcare, Kane said.
Lewistown Hospital and Geisinger officials plan to close the merger on Nov. 1. Patients will continue to have access to existing services and, eventually, to the additional services provided at the new Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital.
"We welcome the Lewistown Hospital team into the Geisinger family, and look forward to building programs, growing services, improving outcomes and demonstrating value to the people of the Juniata Valley," said Glenn Steele, Geisinger Health System president and CEO.