Judge approves delay of hearing on Partners deal

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BOSTON (AP) — A Suffolk Superior Court judge has granted Attorney General Martha Coakley's request to delay a scheduled hearing on an agreement her office reached with Partners HealthCare.

The deal would let the state's largest hospital and physicians' network acquire South Shore Hospital and Hallmark Health Systems.

Coakley has said the deal resolves her antitrust investigation into Partners and would fundamentally alter the organization's negotiating power for 10 years while controlling health costs across Partner's network.

Massachusetts' Health Policy Commission said the acquisition of Hallmark, which runs two community hospitals north of Boston, would reinforce Partners' market power.

A spokesman for Coakley said the office always retained the option to renegotiate portions of this agreement relating to Hallmark and will wait for the commission's final report before sealing the agreement.

The hearing will now be held Sept. 29.

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