The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continued its relentless focus on combinations in the healthcare industry last month when it filed an administrative complaint challenging a merger of two West Virginia hospitals, In the Matter of Cabell Huntington Hospital (FTC Docket No. 9366). Given the FTC’s recent successes in thwarting other healthcare mergers it saw as anticompetitive, it is not surprising that the agency is taking on this particular fight. What is somewhat surprising, though, is that the FTC is doing so against the wishes of West Virginia’s antitrust enforcer, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. As a close reading of the complaint reveals, the FTC not only criticizes the hospital merger itself but essentially indicts West Virginia’s regulation of healthcare facilities as inherently anticompetitive. As such, it raises serious questions of comity and federalism, as well as the future of the much-touted federal and state antitrust partnership, which will merit careful consideration as the case progresses. Read more>>
Reprinted with permission from the December 7, 2015, issue of The Legal Intelligencer. Copyright 2015. ALM Media Properties, LLC. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. All rights reserved.