Hospital fights FTC to purchase medical center

In an ongoing battle with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Albany, Ga.-based Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital yesterday announced it filed briefs with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to go forward with the $195-million purchase of HCA-owned Palmyra (Ga.) Medical Center.

In a previous and small victory for the FTC, the district court ordered an injunction on the sale, stating that the FTC had the authority to review the deal. But in June, U.S. District Court Judge Louis Sands ruled in Phoebe's favor, lifted the injunction, and said the deal was immune from antitrust review--a decision the FTC later appealed.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital now is asking the court of appeals to uphold its original ruling to clear the way for the purchase.

Calling it tantamount to regulatory "meddling," Phoebe's CEO rejects the FTC's objections.

"Now more than ever the national healthcare landscape makes hospital consolidations and regional partnerships a necessary strategy to provide cost-effective quality care to citizens," said Phoebe President and CEO Joel Wernick in a statement. "This transaction is between a willing seller, HCA, and our community's Hospital Authority. We are looking forward to the court's ruling. We believe the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear this transaction is beyond FTC meddling."

The FTC has argued that the Georgia hospital deal is monopolistic.

For more information:
- read the Albany Herald article
- see the hospital statement

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