Advocate and NorthShore will fight for merger

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The FTC logo.

Despite a significant setback in a federal appeals court, Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University Health System said they are planning to continue fighting for their planned merger.

The two providers had announced their intent to merge earlier this year. The Federal Trade Commission took action to block the deal, which would have created a 16-hospital system with more than $7 billion in annual revenue. It claimed that allowing the deal to go through would create a monopoly in the Chicago area, allowing it to charge payers higher rates for service.

Although a federal district court judge had declined to grant the FTC's request to block the deal, it was recently reversed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. It sent the case back down to a lower court to determine whether to grant an injunction.

"We remain steadfast in our belief that bringing our organizations together is the right thing to do for consumers and therefore we are choosing to move forward with our case," Advocate and NorthShore said in a joint statement, sent to the Chicago Tribune. "We are confident that Judge Jorge Alonso made the right decision in our favor this past summer, reaffirming the competitive realities of the Chicago market. We look forward to a positive resolution—paving the way for an innovative care delivery model to further advance quality and lower costs."

The FTC has intervened in several proposed hospital mergers in the past year. For instance, last month it succeeded in scuttling a joint venture between the Penn State Health and PinnacleHealth systems in Pennsylvania.