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US: Despite shortfalls, Phoebe settlement remains helpful for FTC

 |  September 9, 2013

A Federal Trade Commission attorney said that despite the “less than satisfactory” outcome of the regulator’s case with healthcare conglomerate Phoebe Putney, the case will still prove useful to future efforts against anticompetitive hospital mergers and act as “Exhibit A” for those cases.

Maggie DiMoscato, the FTC’s head lawyer in the case, offered an interview last week said that the settlement was the best possible outcome for the FTC under current Georgia law. The case’s outcome was deemed unusual by some analysts, as the FTC, which looked to fight the merger of the only two hospitals in one area within Georgia, ultimately settled as a final ruling found that state action immunity overruled federal antitrust review.

Phoebe Putney Health System’s Memorial Hospital acquired its only rival hospital within Albany, Georgia, a deal cleared by the local Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County. Phoebe Putney and the hospital authority settled with the FTC, and the buyout’s transaction remains finalized.

The settlement came as a surprise to some as the US Supreme Court ruled in February in favor of the FTC as it sought federal review of the hospital merger. Now, going forward, DiMoscato says that despite the outcome, Phoebe Putney and the hospital authority settled with the FTC and agreed not to make any future acquisitions unless notified to the FTC, meaning the watchdog can now request information and review the terms of a deal if necessary.

Full Content: The Augusta Chronicle

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