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US: MA healthcare group cites Microsoft case to win hospital buyout

 |  November 9, 2014

Nonprofit Massachusetts-based healthcare system Partners HealthCare is reportedly urging a federal judge to examine major antitrust cases including disputes involving Microsoft and Citigroup to decide whether to approve of Partners’ plans to acquire hospital assets.

According to reports, Partners wants Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet L. Sanders to base a ruling not on whether the acquisitions will solve problems in the healthcare market, but whether they were legitimately negotiated. In a court filing, Partners argued that a 1995 antitrust settlement reached between Microsoft and federal antitrust officials was made after a court ruled a settlement cannot be rejected just because “other remedies were preferable.”

Reports say Partners also cited the more recent antitrust dispute involving American Airlines’ acquisition of US Airways and securities fraud charges against Citigroup, all major deals that were ultimately cleared despite public criticism.

Partners is looing to acquire South Shore Hospital and the Hallmark Health System in the state. The plans have raised criticism and concern that the takeovers would lead to higher medical costs.

An antitrust lawyer representing a group of Partners rivals argues that Partners’ arguments insufficiently address the issue at hand. “They don’t have a single example in the healthcare space for the judge to follow,” Andrea Agathoklis Murino said in response to Partners’ latest filing.

Partners is the largest and most expensive healthcare system in the state, according to reports.

Full content: Boston Globe

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