Restraining order halts Advocate-NorthShore merger

A proposed merger between Downers Grove, Ill.-based Advocate Health Care and Evanston, Ill.-based NorthShore University HealthSystem has been put on hold after the two hospital chains and the Federal Trade Commission agreed to a temporary restraining order to stop the transaction, according to aChicago Tribune report.

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 area's general acute care inpatient hospital services, according to the FTC.

On Dec. 21, the FTC and the Illinois attorney general 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.

Although the two hospital chains have agreed to put the merger on hold, they intend to oppose the FTC's request for an injunction. U.S. District Court Judge Jorge Alonso is slated to hear the FTC's arguments for an injunction starting April 6, 2016, according to the report.

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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