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Health business legal landscape gets more complicated

The days of doctors in individual practice are largely gone. As recently as the 1970s, it was not unusual to find health care providers in their own offices. Since then, the country has seen seismic shifts in the business model for how medical treatment is delivered. And the changes show little sign of letting up.

Late last year, CVS Health announced plans to merge with Aetna. Supporters of the pharmacy-insurer deal claim it will deliver lower costs and improve overall patient outcomes to consumers. They say that will be possible by better leveraging the growing pool of information from electronic health records. And just today comes word that Walmart has eyes on acquiring insurer, Humana. Whether either of these deals can clear regulatory hurdles remains to be seen.

Nor are these trends restricted to the national level. Closer to home, Health Quest Systems of LaGrangeville and Western Connecticut Health Network are working on a merger with the aim of creating a chain of seven hospitals in the region next year.

If everything goes according to plan, the union will reportedly create a 1,500-bed not-for-profit health system employing more than 12,000 people. The top executives leading negotiations say they anticipate the merger will make it possible to provide new health care programs for an estimated 1.5 million residents from New York and Connecticut. They say the combining of resources will also make it possible to recruit more specialty providers to the area.

Business transactions of this kind are subject to close government scrutiny. This deal is no exception. Officials at the federal and state levels must sign off on the agreement. And while both parties to the merger say they don't anticipate significant regulatory pushback, you can be sure they are working with experienced attorneys to minimize any possible risk of that occurring.

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