Partners HealthCare Announces Plans to Acquire Mass. Eye and Ear

Regulatory negotiations could last a year.

Partners HealthCare is moving to acquire Massachusetts Eye and Ear, just weeks after the state’s dominant healthcare system picked up New Hampshire’s Wentworth-Douglass Hospital.

Mass. Eye and Ear, the country’s top-ranked ear, nose, and throat hospital, is already affiliated with major Partners organizations, including Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The merger—which will face significant regulatory scrutiny before it potentially moves forward—represents a logical next step for the institutions, according to a statement from Partners CEO David Torchiana.

“It makes all the sense in the world for [Mass. Eye and Ear] to formally become part of the Partners family,” the Boston Globe reports Torchiana said in a statement. “We look forward to making Mass. Eye and Ear services and research accessible to a broader population of patients.”

Mass. Eye and Ear CEO John Fernandez notified employees of the plan in an internal email sent Friday morning, the Globe reports.

Partners’ planned acquisitions have not always gone smoothly. Plans to integrate South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Health System were both dropped due to external pressure.

The state’s Health Policy Commission is notoriously careful about avoiding monopolies and keeping healthcare expenditures in check. In 2016, for example, it expressed major concerns about a $1 billion Boston Children’s Hospital expansion, which was eventually approved unanimously by the Massachusetts Public Health Council.

Negotiations over Partners’ Mass. Eye and Ear acquisition could last well into 2017, and perhaps longer.