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Bill introduced to standardize hospital merger reviews

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) has introduced legislation that would require the Federal Trade Commission to follow the same procedure as the Department of Justice when reviewing hospital and health system mergers and acquisitions.

The Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act of 2014 would require the FTC to exclusively use the federal courts to review mergers, rather than using administrative litigation in addition to preliminary injunctions in federal court. The American Hospital Association has backed the bill: In a letter to members of the House Judiciary Committee, AHA Executive Vice President Rick Pollack wrote the current FTC review methodology is "unfair and punitive" and amounts to "double jeopardy" for hospitals.

"While AHA supports enforcement of the antitrust laws, relying exclusively on the federal courts to determine the competitiveness of a transaction ensures that hospitals, and others, receive a full hearing on the merits," Mr. Pollack wrote.

The AHA has also asked the Judiciary Committee to add a provision to the bill requiring federal antitrust agencies to provide closing statements when they decide not to challenge a transaction. Mr. Pollack wrote the Antitrust Modernization Commission has determined these statements promote voluntary compliance by allowing hospitals to predict and avoid which merger arrangements will spur antitrust enforcement action.

More articles on hospital transactions:
Hackensack University Health Network, Palisades Medical Center sign letter of intent
Is hospital consolidation beneficial or harmful for the healthcare industry?
Cleveland Clinic, King's Daughters Medical Center announce affiliation


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