Monday, April 16, 2012

FTC Drops Suit After Healthcare System Abandons Enjoined Takeover

This posting was written by Darius Sturmer, Editor of CCH Trade Regulation Reporter.

The FTC announced on April 13 that it has dismissed a complaint it filed against a Rockford, Illinois, healthcare system—OSF Healthcare System—seeking to block OSF's proposed acquisition of rival health care provider Rockford Health System, in light of OSF's decision to abandon the transaction.

OSF arrived at its decision to scrap the deal after the federal district court in Rockford recently granted the agency's motion to preliminarily enjoin it, pending an FTC trial (2012-1 Trade Cases ¶77,850).

The FTC issued the complaint in November 2011, alleging that OSF's proposed acquisition of Rockford Health System would reduce competition in two markets in the Rockford area: (1) general acute-care inpatient services, and (2) primary care physician services. That complaint can be found at CCH Trade Regulation Reporter ¶16,666.

In granting preliminary injunctive relief on April 5, the federal court found that the Commission had made a strong prima facie showing that the combination would have adverse competitive effects. The court rejected arguments by the companies that various competitive considerations and constraints would preclude them from being able to raise prices to supracompetitive levels following the merger, and it further noted and that the companies failed to present sufficient proof of extraordinary efficiencies that would rebut the FTC's case.

"The Federal Trade Commission is gratified by OSF Healthcare's decision to abandon its attempt to acquire rival hospital services provider Rockford Health System," said Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

"As we said in November when we filed our complaint, health care consumers and employers in Rockford would have paid a price had the deal been allowed to proceed. The FTC remains vigilant, and will not hesitate to challenge deals in the health care sector that are likely to decrease competition and lead to higher prices or fewer services."

Further information regarding In re OSF Healthcare System appears here on the FTC website. The order dismissing the FTC complaint will appear at CCH Trade Regulation Reporter ¶16,763.

No comments: