FTC to continue fighting Advocate-NorthShore merger

The Federal Trade Commission is appealing a federal judge's decision that denied its request to block the merger of Downers Grove, Ill.-based Advocate Health Care and Evanston, Ill.-based NorthShore University HealthSystem.

In 2014, Advocate and NorthShore unveiled plans to come together and create a new health system called Advocate NorthShore Health Partners, which would include 16 hospitals with more than 4,000 hospital beds, employ more than 45,000 workers and serve more than 3 million patients annually. After a 15-month review, the FTC opposed the merger in December.

Both sides presented testimony in April over whether the FTC's request for a preliminary injunction to halt the transaction should be granted. The FTC argued the merger would have anti-competitive effects. However, Advocate and NorthShore claim the merger will not raise healthcare prices for consumers or reduce health insurers' bargaining power.

In a brief order issued Tuesday, U.S. Northern District Court Judge Jorge Alonso said the government did not provide enough evidence that the partnership would harm competition in the region. The judge's full opinion remains under seal, but a version will be made available to the public after the health systems and the FTC meet about redacting information from the full opinion.

The FTC filed a notice of appeal Wednesday in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, according to the Chicago Tribune.

More articles on healthcare industry lawsuits:

Former Calif. senator admits accepting bribes from ex-hospital CEO
FTC can't block Advocate-NorthShore merger, judge rules
Washington hospital CEO ordered to admit patient or go to jail

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