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FTC Urges States To Repeal COPA Laws

 |  September 6, 2022

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has urged state lawmakers to repeal Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA) laws, asserting that the agreements allow otherwise illegal hospital mergers to bypass antitrust laws.

When hospitals seek to merge but are concerned that the deal will violate federal antitrust laws, they can apply for a COPA. A COPA allows merging hospitals to enter an agreement with the state instead of facing FTC regulations. The state will permit a hospital merger as long as the hospital agrees to state oversight of prices, quality, and other metrics that the deal could impact.

According to FTC, COPAs aim to replace competition with state oversight and limit FTC’s ability to challenge hospital mergers that are likely to harm patients and employees.

“Mergers that lead to lower prices or better health outcomes for patients are unlikely to violate antitrust laws and thus would not require COPAs to mitigate anticompetitive harms,” FTC wrote in its policy paper.

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