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US: FTC heads to trial to stop Advocate-NorthShore hospital merger

 |  April 10, 2016

On Monday, Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University HealthSystem will square off against the federal government in a closely watched legal fight over health care competition.

This could appear to be an arcane battle over complicated issues such as market concentration, managed care, reimbursement rates and relevant geographic markets. But it has real-world consequences for the affordability of health care for Chicago-area consumers.

The trial comes at a time of rapid change in health care delivery as a result of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, whose aim is to lower costs, increase access to care and improve quality by fostering competition. Hospitals are merging and buying up physician practices to achieve some of the same goals, but regulators have cast a wary eye on recent deals. If the Federal Trade Commission prevails against Advocate and NorthShore, it could slow the march toward consolidation.

“The merger is one of the biggest hospital deals that FTC has challenged, so all eyes are on it,” said Lisl Dunlop, an antitrust lawyer at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in New York.

Full content: Chicago Tribune

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