Digging deeper: Deal to purchase Palmyra Medical Center - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Digging deeper: Deal to purchase Palmyra Medical Center

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Time is ticking for the sale of Palmyra Medical Center to the Albany Dougherty Hospital Authority.

A deadline to complete buyout will expire in 27 days, but it could be extended.

Area patients are more worried about their open enrollment periods and whether they're insurance will be accepted next year if the deal goes through.

Next month will mark a year since the Albany Dougherty Hospital Authority announced plans to purchase Palmyra Medical Center from HCA. A deadline for that agreement to happen expires December 15th. If the deal isn't complete Phoebe Putney health System owes HCA a 35 million dollar in a break-up fee, but that deadline has already been extended.

"That date has moved two or three times as we honor the request of the Federal Trade Commission to move back the closing date," said Tommy Chambless, PPMH Attorney.

The FTC is challenging the sale. It appealed a lower court ruling to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals which hasn't issued a ruling but is aware of the deadline for the deal. Officials expect a decision any day.

"They took the appeal on an expedited basis, the oral arguments they had a briefing scheduled fairly quick for the 11th circuit, they assigned it an oral argument date on its calendar at its earliest open opportunity," said Chambless.

Attorneys for the health system don't expect a state case filed by Dr. Corleen Thompson to cause much delay. They dismiss the claim that the Hospital Authority violated state law by agreeing to the deal.

"It's groundless, it's baseless, it's frivolous and it's all of those things and worse and you know anybody can file a paper with the court and make whatever statements one might want to make in a complaint and ask whatever they want to ask for but at the end of the day there has to be some basis in law," said Chambless

Patients who have insurance that's currently accepted by Palmyra say they're left not knowing what to do, as the deadline for their open enrollment is set to close and they don't know down the road if that insurance will be accepted.

"At some point in the future as these matters have all taken place the sale completed the lease entered into etc. there will ultimately be changes in the contractual relationships but until then people will remain as they are," said Chambless.

Officials with Phoebe say on that they'll just have to wait and see.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction back in August blocking the 195-million dollar purchase until the Federal Trade Commission had time to appeal the case.

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