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Panel says Tufts-Lowell General deal would not raise costs

The state's Health Policy Commission has declined to conduct a detailed study of a proposed merger between Tufts Medical Center and Lowell General Hospital, clearing the way for deal to close.

The commission, a watchdog agency that studies health care costs, said the deal is not likely to raise costs, and therefore doesn't require an in-depth analysis, such as those conducted for mergers involving Partners HealthCare of Boston and Lahey Health of Burlington.

The commission "found that Tufts Medical Center and Lowell General Hospital have relatively low hospital prices, and the transaction is unlikely to significantly increase the parties' bargaining leverage to negotiate higher prices," executive director David Seltz said in an announcement Tuesday.

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Seltz added that the transaction could even reduce costs by sending more patients to Tufts over Boston's more expensive academic medical centers.

Tufts and Lowell General, which announced the plan in April, will form a new parent company.

Normand E. Deschene, chief executive of Lowell General, will have the same role at the new parent company, and Ellen Zane, a former chief executive and current vice chairwoman at Tufts, will be chairwoman of its board. Michael Wagner will remain chief executive of Tufts.

"We are looking forward to completing the final steps needed to form the new health system very soon," Tufts and Lowell General said in a joint statement Tuesday. They did not say when the deal would close.


Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at priyanka. mccluskey@globe.com.
Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.