ProMedica outlines unwinding of St. Luke's acquisition

ProMedica has proposed unwinding its acquisition of St. Luke's Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio and returning it to the status of an independent entity.

The proposal includes returning complete control of St. Luke's to an independent board and no longer being involved in employee recruitment or other business operations of the hospital. ProMedica recently submitted the proposal to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The FTC sued not long after ProMedica acquired St. Luke's in 2010, contending the deal was anti-competitive to the Northern Ohio healthcare market. ProMedica had asserted that the deal was among the only ways to keep the financially struggling St. Luke's in operation, according to The Toledo Blade.

The FTC and the U.S. Department of Justice has become particularly aggressive against certain hospital mergers and acquisitions in recent years, particularly taking legal actions after deals were completed.

Last year in the space of just a few weeks, the feds intervened in two hospital deals. Those deals included the merger of two relatively small and regionally isolated hospitals in West Virginia in November.

In December, the FTC intervened in a much larger deal in Chicago involving Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University HealthSystem, which were planning to combine to create a 16-hospital system. The agency recently sued the providers in federal court to try and block the merger completely. It is one of the biggest hospital deals that has drawn antitrust scrutiny, and some experts say it could shape how hospitals and healthcare systems contemplate future mergers and acquisitions.

The FTC is currently accepting public comments regarding the ProMedica/St. Luke's divestiture through early June, the agency said in a statement.

To learn more:
- check ProMedica's proposal (.pdf)
- read The Toledo Blade article 
- here's the FTC's statement