Hackensack Meridian Health and JFK Health Sign Definitive Agreement to Merge

Hackensack Meridian Health and JFK Health announced the signing of a definitive agreement to merge, following five months of due dilligence, on Tuesday.
The deal expands Hackensack Meridian Health to include 15 hopsitals spanning North and Central Jersey. The combined entity will employ more than 33,000 team members and over 7,000 physicians on staff, according to a statement. 
The goals of this merger include better population health and helping to lower the cost of health care by leveraging the scale of operations for more efficiencies, according to HMH co-CEO Robert Garrett.“We have to be more transparent about our quality, about our patient safety, transparent about our pricing, and that’s something we are striving to do as well,” he said.
Ray Fredericks, CEO of JFK Health, said the reasons to join HMH were many and the entire team is excited about the move, especially since JFK and Meridian have an existing collaborative relationship.
Despite finance experts recently worried about a slowdown in consolidations and how changes to the Affordable Care Act will affect the stability of the most recent consolidations, Fredericks said this is the path to continue on.
“When we look at businese leaders … they have to continue to provide health care to their employees, and they want to do the right thing, but they need to have a very predictable price and they need to have health care delivered the most efficacious way possible, so we need to continue down this path of population health to provide a good health care delivery product,” he said.
Fredericks added that the scale of operations was critical in areas like cancer, where the relationship HMH has with Memorial Sloan Kettering is something JFK could never have achieved.HMH co-CEO John Lloyd said the system now has all the pieces it needs to achieve a future goal of truly integrated care.
“That’s a game-changer, that’s what this is all about,” he said.Garrett said no matter what happens in Washington, D.C., the focus remains on the increased responsibility of health care decisions that is placed on patients.
With the recent partnerships with Memorial Sloan Kettering and new business of innovation with New Jersey Institute of Technology’s New Jersey Innovation Institute, Garrett said he believes the cost of health care can be lowered with all pieces in place.
JFK Health also will become part of the group purchasing organization HMH has with Atlantic Health and other systems in Pennsylvania, AllSpire, which aims to lower cost of supplies for the facilities.
Other officials also commented on the merger, which makes HMH the second-largest system in the state by a much smaller margin, compared with RWJBarnabas Health.
“We welcome JFK Health with open arms,” said Gordon Litwin, co-chair of the Hackensack Meridian Health board of trustees. “This is an exciting time for health care in New Jersey and beyond. Hackensack Meridian Health is leading the way in advancing the delivery of health care through groundbreaking partnerships and innovation — truly redesigning how care is delivered.”
“Hackensack Meridian Health is a leader in orchestrating excellence around people and creating a better world for all,” said Joseph Simunovich, co-chair of the Hackensack Meridian Health Board of Trustees. “We look forward to taking the next steps to make this merger a reality.”
“Our merger with Hackensack Meridian Health emphasizes our desire to continue to deliver high-quality and safe clinical services and further supports our numerous health initiatives,” said Michael Kleiman, chairman of JFK Health.
Hackensack Meridian Health recently rebranded and will include JFK Health as part of the rebranded system, with a change in signage to roll out over the next few years.  The JFK facilities will be renamed Hackensack Meridian JFK Health.The agreement will now be subject to review by the state attorney general and the Federal Trade Commission.