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PROVIDENCE – One of Rhode Island’s largest primary care providers could join Lifespan’s health system within the next six months under an agreement the organizations’ two presidents announced Thursday.

Coastal Medical President and CEO Dr. Alan Kurose and Lifespan President and CEO Timothy Babineau said the new partnership is a natural fit when it comes to unifying health care delivery in Rhode Island.

The two organizations have signed a letter of intent on the agreement, but Kurose and Babineau stopped short of calling it an acquisition by Lifespan. They said they do not believe the partnership requires regulatory approval from the state Department of Health or the Attorney General’s office.

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“Coastal Medical has set the standard for excellence in primary care nationally and we look forward to bringing that expertise to all of the patients Lifespan serves,” Babineau said in a prepared statement. “There are already relationships and natural synergies between our two organizations, and we share strong values in doing what is best for our patients and communities.”

Lifespan is the state’s largest employer, operating Rhode Island Hospital, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, The Miriam Hospital, Bradley Hospital, and Newport Hospital.

The partnership with Coastal Medical comes less than seven months after a proposed merger between Lifespan, Care New England and Brown University collapsed. State leaders have encouraged the institutions to return to the negotiating table, but that hasn’t happened.

Lifespan officials have said “a dramatic and unexpected reduction in Medicare rates,” the lasting impact of the closing of Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket, and the continued loss of specialized medical care to Boston were responsible for the organization losing $55 million last fiscal year.

Coastal is widely considered one of the best success stories in Rhode Island health care. The organization has 125 primary care physicians and advanced practitioners, and more than 500 employees in the state.

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“Lifespan shares our vision and we see tremendous opportunity together to reach more patients and have a larger positive impact on the health care system,” Kurose said.


Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.