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FTC stops plan to block W.Va. hospital merger


St. Mary’s Medical Center.

The Federal Trade Commission has decided to drop its administrative complaint challenging the proposed merger between Cabell Huntington (W.Va.) Hospital and Huntington-based St. Mary’s Medical Center.

Cabell Huntington and St. Mary’s began merger talks in 2014, and the FTC authorized action to block the deal last November, alleging that it violated antitrust law.

But, to try to get around the challenge, West Virginia lawmakers proposed legislation letting certain hospital deals approved by the West Virginia Health Care Authority and the state’s attorney general avoid state and federal antitrust laws.  Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed the legislation into law in March.

That led the  unhappy FTC voted unanimously to dismiss its administrative complaint.

The commission wrote: “This case presents another example of healthcare providers attempting to use state legislation to shield potentially anticompetitive combinations from antitrust enforcement”.

However, the agency said that  its decision to dismiss its complaint doesn’t presage future cases. . “We will continue to vigorously investigate and, where appropriate, challenge anticompetitive mergers in the courts and, if necessary, through state cooperative agreement processes.”

To read a Becker’s Hospital Review article on this, please hit this link.


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