|August 30, 2013|
Previously published on August 2013
In a release on August 22, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it had agreed on the terms of a consent order with Phoebe Putney Health System in Georgia that will allow Phoebe Putney to keep the hospital it acquired for $200 million in 2011. In February, the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld the FTC's decision to block the merger as a violation of federal antitrust laws.
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, owned by the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County, had agreed to merge with Palmyra Medical Center, the only other acute-care hospital in the county. The Supreme Court agreed with the FTC’s contention that by reducing competition in Albany, the merger could result in higher medical costs for consumers. The ruling overturned a lower court decision that had upheld the proposed merger.
Had the FTC required Phoebe Putney to undo the acquisition, Georgia’s strict Certificate of Need (CON) law would have effectively precluded splitting the license for the now-combined hospitals and restoring the separate license for Palmyra Medical Center. The consent order will prohibit Phoebe Putney from challenging CON applications filed by competitors and require Phoebe Putney to notify the FTC before acquiring any other facilities or physician practices.