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Court Rules Against FTC, Says Phoebe Putney Can Acquire Palmyra

A court of appeals has ruled against the Federal Trade Commission in its finding that Phoebe Putney Health System in Albany, Ga., can acquire Palmyra Medical Center, also in Albany, since the transaction is protected by state-action immunity and not subject to federal scrutiny, according to a case briefing.

Phoebe Putney is operated by the Hospital-Authority of Albany-Dougherty County. The deciding factor in the court's decision is the state's Hospital Authorities Law, which was enacted in 1941. Under that law, hospital authorities are granted power to "acquire by purchase, lease or otherwise…" projects, including hospitals. The court ruled this state law gives Phoebe the power to acquire Palmyra.

The court also went against the FTC's concerns about anticompetitive effects, noting that anticompetitive effects were anticipated at the time when the Hospital Authorities Law was enacted.

In June, U.S. District Court Judge Louis Sands ruled that the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County was immune from attempts by the FTC to block the transaction. The FTC appealed that ruling, contending that the Hospital Authority approved the $195 million deal without considering possible antitrust issues, particularly that the acquisition could result in a monopoly and increased prices.

Related Articles on Palmyra Medical Center and Phoebe Putney Health System:

Physician Files Suit to Stop Phoebe Putney-Palmyra Merger in Georgia
Georgia's Phoebe Putney, FTC Make Oral Arguments in Appeal Over Merger
Georgia's Phoebe Putney Health Says FTC is "Meddling" in Transaction


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