LifePoint in bidding war for Florida hospital

What difference does $60 million make when you are determined to buy a hospital in Florida?

Duke LifePoint, a joint venture of Duke University and Brentwood-based LifePoint Hospitals, has increased its bid for Ocala-based Munroe Regional Medical Center from $138.7 million to $200 million, according to the Star Banner, Ocala’s daily newspaper.

The current $200 million bid is equal to Health Management Associates’ offer for the 421-bed hospital. HMA is a for-profit provider based in Florida. The Star Banner article (read more here) reports the hospital’s management was alarmed at the more than $60 million discrepancy between the bids and was seriously considering the bid from HMA, despite having the opportunity to work in a partnership with a high-profile national name such as Duke.

"We believe this potential relationship is an excellent match for both of our organizations, and we have a great opportunity to work together to enhance healthcare delivery throughout Marion County and the surrounding region,” Diane Huggins, LifePoint's vice president of corporate communications, wrote in a statement to the Star Banner. “The increase in the offer made by Duke LifePoint demonstrates our confidence in our ability to add significant value to secure the future success of the hospital.”

LifePoint (Ticker: LPNT) owns or leases nearly 60 hospitals in 20 states, but only one in Florida. HMA owns or operates 22 hospitals throughout Florida.