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NC attorney general signs off on HCA's $1.5B purchase of Mission Health

North Carolina's attorney general does not object to HCA Healthcare Inc.'s $1.5 billion purchase of Mission Health System, Inc., a North Carolina-based hospital system.

Attorney General Josh Stein signed off on the merger Jan. 16, allowing hospital giant HCA to move forward with its acquisition. Stein said the deal is one of the largest sales of non-private assets in North Carolina's history.

Because Mission is a not-for-profit hospital system, the net assets of the sellers of Mission will be transferred into the Dogwood Health Trust, according to documents from North Carolina's Department of Justice.

"After extensive negotiations, I am satisfied that this new agreement protects healthcare in western North Carolina, ensures that the full value of Mission's assets will continue to be used for public purposes, and requires that the Dogwood Health Trust will be independent and representative," Stein said in a press release.

Mission's seven hospitals will be added to HCA's more than 170 hospitals, and Mission's hospitals will continue to operate under their brand name.

Stein told reporters that recent changes to the asset purchase agreement, to which both parties have agreed, led to him not objecting to the deal.

The first change highlighted by Stein was HCA promising to maintain healthcare services in western North Carolina for 10 years instead of the previous five. The Nashville, Tenn.-based hospital company will also have to receive approval from a local advisory board and an independent monitor if it wants to close a Mission hospital during that 10-year period, according to Stein.

Other changes include Dogwood's board being more representative of western North Carolina's demographics, and having an independent monitor assure that Dogwood and HCA follow the other provisions outlined in the asset purchase agreement. Stein stressed that the independent monitor will report to both Dogwood and the attorney general.

"If you have issues with HCA abiding by the terms, you can let me know," Stein told reporters and local residents.