FTC contests ProMedica hospital acquisition

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has challenged ProMedica Health System's acquisition of St. Luke's Hospital in Maumee, Ohio, claiming the deal was anticompetitive. The agency plans to file a separate complaint today in federal district court to further contest the deal, it announced.

By reducing competition and increasing costs for acute-care and inpatient obstetrical services, the acquisition would "significantly harm patients and local employers and employees," said the FTC.

According to the agency complaint, following the acquisition of St. Luke's in August, Toledo- based ProMedica increased its market share to nearly 60 percent for general acute-care services, and more than 80 percent for inpatient obstetrics in Lucas County. ProMedica operates three other hospitals in the same county.

The health system maintains the deal has allowed financially distressed St. Luke's to continue its mission of providing care for the community.  

A lawyer representing both companies told Bloomberg the transaction actually is "pro-competitive," as patients would still have the option to receive healthcare from other regional hospitals, like the University of Toledo or the Mercy Health System.

A hearing before an FTC administrative law judge is scheduled for May 31. However, American Hospital Association General Counsel and Senior Vice President Melinda Hatton notes that prosecuting a hospital acquisition in FTC territory instead of in federal court puts the hospital, as well as the needs of the community, at an unfair disadvantage, notes AHA News.

For more:
- read the Bloomberg article
- read the AHA News piece
- here's the FTC complaint
- read ProMedica's statement