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NorthShore University HealthSystem, Advocate Health Care scrap merger agreement

Downers Grove, Ill.-based Advocate Health Care and Evanston, Ill.-based NorthShore University HealthSystem have abandoned their plan to merge after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday to temporarily halt the merger, according to the Chicago Tribune.

U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonso granted the Federal Trade Commission and state of Illinois' request for a preliminary injunction to temporarily halt the merger while the FTC "conducts administrative proceedings on the matter," according to the report. His opinion was filed under seal to give the health systems, as well as the FTC, time to request sensitive information be redacted, according to the Tribune report.

"Today's decision reverses Judge Alonso's earlier ruling in support of the creation of Advocate NorthShore Health Partners," said NorthShore University HealthSystem President and CEO Mark Neaman in an internal email to employees obtained by Becker's Hospital Review.

Advocate and NorthShore unveiled plans in 2014 to come together and create a new system. In an order issued June 14, 2016, Judge Alonso denied the FTC's request to block the proposed merger. The FTC appealed the decision, arguing the court's analysis of the geographic market was flawed. Last October, a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court's decision that denied the FTC a preliminary injunction. The court ordered the merger to remain on hold while the lower court reconsidered the government's preliminary injunction request. 

Following Judge Alonso's decision on Tuesday, the health systems dropped their merger plans. "We have determined with the Advocate Health Care leadership that the time, cost, and uncertainty of pursuing any additional appeals would not be worthwhile," said Mr. Neaman in his email to employees.  

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