FTC challenges hospital merger, cites reduced competition

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Friday filed a complaint to halt an acquisition deal between Illinois health systems, OSF HealthCare and Rockford Health System, citing antitrust violations, reported the Rockford Register last week.

If OSF HealthCare's proposed acquisition of Rockford Health goes through, the newly formed OSF Northern Region would control 64 percent of general acute care inpatient services, according to an FTC statement. It's only competitor would be SwedishAmerican Health System, the FTC said. Together, OSF Northern Region and SwedishAmerican Health System would control 99 percent of the acute care market and nearly 60 percent of primary care services in the area, according to the statement.

With fears of market dominance, FTC challenges the acquisition and argues the reduced competition could lead to rate hikes of insurance premiums, copays, and other personal medical expenses.

"If OSF is allowed to acquire Rockford Health System, decades of competition between the defendants' hospitals would end," said Director of the FTC Bureau of Competition Richard Feinstein. "This would lead to significantly higher costs that would be passed on to employers and to health care consumers in Rockford."

OSF Healthcare System, Rockford Health System, and OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center are "extremely disappointed" with the FTC complaint, stating that they had worked with the FTC diligently to outline their case for affiliation.

"OSF Healthcare System and Rockford Health System are committed to pursuing all legal options available to us and will challenge the FTC's request for a preliminary injunction to stop the affiliation," Rockford stated.

To learn more:
- read the Rockford Register article
- check out the FTC statement
- here's the complaint (.pdf)
- read the Rockford statement

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