Illinois Attorney General joins FTC in challenging Advocate-NorthShore merger

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has joined the Federal Trade Commission in seeking to block the planned merger between Downers Grove, Ill.-based Advocate Health Care and Evanston, Ill.-based NorthShore University HealthSystem — a deal that would create the largest health system in the state.

The FTC announced it had authorized action to block the merger last week. On Dec. 21, the Illinois attorney general and the FTC filed a complaint seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the health systems from moving forward with their merger while the FTC conducts its antitrust review.

In an administrative complaint filed Dec. 18, the FTC said the proposed merger would likely do harm to consumers by causing healthcare costs to rise and diminishing incentives for the combined entity to upgrade services and improve quality. If the two organizations combined, they would operate a majority of the hospitals in the Chicagoland area and control more than 50 percent of the general acute care inpatient hospital services, according to the FTC.

"The loss of competition between these two already large and successful hospital systems would be costly to patients on a variety of levels," said Attorney General Madigan. "With fewer hospitals competing for patients on the North Shore, healthcare costs will inevitably rise."

The complaint is pending in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

More articles on antitrust issues:

FTC official: 'The goals of the ACA and antitrust are in harmony'
Researchers use hospital prices to show need to 'combat market power'
How ACOs can avoid antitrust scrutiny

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