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Partners HealthCare System’s plan to take over South Shore Hospital clears a regulatory hurdle

The state Public Health Council voted Wednesday to grant a license that would transfer the ownership of South Shore Hospital in Weymouth to Partners HealthCare System.

Council members approved the so-called “determination of need” certificate under which Boston-based Partners, the state’s largest hospital-and-physicians organization, would become the sole corporate owner of South Shore Hospital.

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But the vote was only the first step in a regulatory process that is continuing.

The planned transaction is still being reviewed by the US Justice Department, which looks at anti-trust issues, and it is likely to be reviewed by the state’s newly created Health Policy Commission, which would examine the deal’s impact on costs and competitiveness.

Partners, which owns Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, cannot complete its proposed acquisition of South Shore Hospital until those reviews concluce.

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