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US: West Virginia hospital mergers now off limits to FTC

 |  March 22, 2016

The Federal Trade Commission must soon decide whether to continue challenging a merger between two West Virginia hospitals or drop the fight following the passage of a state law meant to shield such mergers from federal antitrust action.

West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Friday signed a bill into law that protects hospital mergers from state and federal antitrust scrutiny. The governor’s signature came less than three weeks before an FTC administrative trial is scheduled to begin over the merger.

At least one expert believes the FTC is more likely to walk away than continue the battle against Cabell Huntington Hospital’s proposed acquisition of St. Mary’s Medical Center, also located in Huntington. Some worry that if the FTC drops its challenge, it could inspire more states to pass similar laws.

“Should the FTC leave the matter unchallenged, this new West Virginia law will be the blueprint used by monopolists to avoid consumer protection laws,” Tim Duke, president and CEO of Steel of West Virginia, said in a statement. Duke opposes the merger, saying it could lead to higher costs that could hurt his steel production business.

Full content: Becker’s Hospital Review

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