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FTC aims to block Hackensack Meridian's acquisition of New Jersey hospital

The Federal Trade Commission will sue to block Edison, N.J.-based Hackensack Meridian Health's acquisition of Englewood (N.J.) Health.

The FTC said that combining the two organizations would reduce competition in Bergen County, N.J., as they would own half of the six acute care hospitals in the county. 

"This acquisition would give the combined hospital system increased bargaining leverage, likely leading to increased prices," said Ian Conner, director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition. "The transaction would also remove the competitive pressures that have driven these hospitals to invest in quality improvements to the benefit of patients."

The FTC filed an administrative complaint Dec. 3 and plans to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey to halt the transaction. The administrative trial is scheduled to take place June 15, 2021.

"We are very disappointed to learn that the Federal Trade Commission has voted to challenge the proposed merger between Hackensack Meridian Health and Englewood Health," a statement from the boards of trustees and leadership teams of Hackensack Meridian Health and Englewood Health reads. "We continue to firmly believe that this merger is in the best interest of our patients and the communities at large. As a result, we plan to vigorously defend the merger in court." 

The two organizations signed a definitive agreement to merge in fall of 2019.

Under the deal, the 17-hospital Hackensack Meridian is seeking to merge with the single-hospital system and add 900 physicians to its 7,000-physician network. Hackensack also agreed to invest $400 million in Englewood to help build out the hospital's services, including cardiovascular care, neurosciences, oncology, women's health and ambulatory care.

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