ATLANTA— Emory Healthcare and St. Joseph’s Health System formally closed their deal to combine on Jan. 1. The announcement comes 10 months after they announced their intentions for a partnership. The agreement gives Emory a majority stake in operations at 51% with St. Joseph retaining 49%. St. Joseph will enjoy super-majority rights on issues pertaining to Roman Catholic doctrine and the hospital’s mission. The Vatican has already approved the deal. “The partnership will enable us to expand services, facilitating broader patient access while providing a more cohesive experience through sharing electronic medical records,” Emory President and CEO John Fox said in a news release. “While this partnership has taken time to develop, I have never been more excited about our future. Emory Healthcare and St. Joseph’s, two of Atlanta’s oldest, most established and respected centers for health and healing, can now begin the work of enhancing patient care together.” Emory consists of three hospitals and more than 20 clinics in the Atlanta area. St. Joseph’s Hospital is a 276-bed acutecare hospital with more than 750 doctors. TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— A special commission created by Gov. Rick Scott on Florida public hospitals is recommending that local taxing districts create more transparency, start paying providers other than hospitals and develop publicly accountable ways to sell government-owned healthcare facilities. The Florida Commission on Review of Taxpayer Funded Hospital Districts, headed by Florida Taxwatch CEO Dominic Calabro, released a 30-page draft report that emphasized a need to evaluate why the state has 34 local taxing districts to run hospitals. The report opined that Florida’s fast-growing communities in the mid-20th century found public ownership to be the quickest way to meet health demands at the time. Now that the state has a competitive hospital market, the commission recommends that local districts should be reevaluated at least every 12 years by local referendum. Dr. Keon-hyung Lee of the Askew School of Public Administration and Policy at Florida State University told the commission that public hospitals typically post operating costs up to 12% higher than their forprofit and not-for-profit competitors, and collect Medicaid inpatient rates up to 24% higher, after adjusting for various factors such as case-severity mix and location. The commission recommended that hospital districts “de-couple” themselves from public hospitals and recast themselves as “indigent care districts” that could divert tax funds to less expensive healthcare providers, such as nursing homes, urgent-care centers and primary-care clinics. Scott, who became governor in 2010, is the former CEO of for-profit Columbia/hca Healthcare Corp. and a former principal with the Jacksonville-based Solantic chain of urgent-care centers.