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The Boston Globe

Business

Partners rivals seek to intervene in antitrust settlement

Competitors of Partners HealthCare System notified a state judge Wednesday they will seek to intervene in an antitrust settlement reached between Attorney General Martha Coakley and Partners and asked that no immediate action be taken to approve the pact.

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Mitchell H. Kaplan has scheduled a hearing at 2 p.m. Monday to consider the settlement.

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But a coalition of hospital systems and doctors groups, including Atrius Health, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Lahey Health, and Tufts Medical System, asked Kaplan to establish a period of at least 45 days to allow public comment on the agreement and set a later date for a hearing to address feedback provided by outside parties.

The deal was filed in superior court Tuesday, seeking a judge’s approval. It was hammered out during months of negotiations between Coakley’s office and Partners, the Boston-based network of hospitals and physicians that includes Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals.

The agreement ended a five-year inquiry by the attorney general and the US Department of Justice into the market power and contracting practices of Partners, by far the largest health care system in the state. By allowing Partners to acquire at least three community hospitals, including South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, but restricting further expansion and capping prices, the pact will set ground rules for health care competition for the next decade.

Partners rivals had asked Coakley to make the settlement’s terms public and give interested parties a chance to comment before they were filed with the judge. But in a response Tuesday, Deputy Attorney General Chris Barry-Smith said it was up to the court to determine the process. In their Wednesday letter to Kaplan, the competitors said they planned to file a formal motion to intervene later this week.

“It is undisputed that Partners’ proposed acquisitions, as embodied in the settlement agreement, raise substantial issues of importance to the accessibility, cost, and delivery of medical services to the citizens and businesses of the Commonwealth,” they wrote. “It is essential that all market participants be given an appropriate opportunity to understand the nature and scope of the proposed settlement and to comment on the effects.”

A call to the judge’s chambers Wednesday was not returned. Coakley’s spokesman Brad Puffer declined to comment on the coalition’s request to intervene.

Partners vice president Rich Copp said the health care system will continue to work with Coakley’s office and the judge to finalize the agreement.

“Our focus is on moving forward with our vision to deliver high-quality, more coordinated care for our patients closer to their homes at lower costs,” he said. “The final agreement supports that.”

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.

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