Supreme Court Gives FTC More Power To Police Hospital Mergers

The decision is a win for the federal government as it seeks to monitor the trend toward consolidations around the country.

The New York Times: Supreme Court Gives FTC A Win On Hospital Mergers
The Supreme Court on Tuesday strengthened the power of the Federal Trade Commission to block hospital mergers, issuing an opinion that could limit the ability of public hospital authorities to claim immunity from federal antitrust laws (Pollack, 2/19).

The Wall Street Journal: FTC Gets More Muscle In Policing Hospital Mergers
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday gave more muscle to federal antitrust enforcers' ability to police hospital mergers, the latest win for the government in its campaign to monitor the fast-consolidating industry. The court, in a unanimous decision, revived the Federal Trade Commission's challenge to a Georgia hospital deal, ruling the merger wasn't immune to federal antitrust scrutiny. The decision placed limits on the circumstances in which local governments are exempt from federal antitrust laws (Kendall, 2/19).

Georgia Health News: A Stunning Blow To Albany Hospital Merger
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision Tuesday, ruled that an acquisition by a hospital authority that owns Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital was not immune from antitrust scrutiny. The decision represents a victory for the Federal Trade Commission, which argued that the Albany merger was anti-competitive. The Albany-Dougherty County Hospital Authority's bid to acquire Palmyra Medical Center drew opposition because Phoebe Putney and Palmyra are the only two hospitals in the Albany area. In 2011, the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Georgia General Assembly had granted antitrust immunity to such deals through a hospital authorities law, trumping the FTC's argument that the acquisition would cause higher health costs in the Albany area (Miller, 2/19).

In another court decision --

San Francisco Chronicle: U.S. Supreme Court Sides With Optometrists
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected optical companies' challenge Tuesday to a California law, backed by optometrists, that prohibits eyeglass sellers from using their offices to conduct eye exams. The 1969 law bars opticians who sell eyewear from leasing space to eye doctors, while allowing doctors who check patients' eyesight to also sell eyeglasses in their offices. It thus reserves to optometrists and ophthalmologists the ability to offer "one-stop shopping" for exams and glasses while denying it to optical companies, many of them national chains (Egelko, 2/19).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.