Federal Judge Rules Idaho Hospital Must Unwind Merger With Physicians Group

The court supported a case brought by the Federal Trade Commission that argued the merger reduced competition in the local marketplace.

The Wall Street Journal: FTC Wins Challenge Against Idaho Hospital Deal
A federal judge ruled Friday that an Idaho hospital system must unwind its acquisition of the state's largest independent doctor group, a decision that could have significant implications as health care providers nationwide increasingly seek to join forces. The ruling handed another victory to the Federal Trade Commission, which in recent years has renewed its efforts to police health care mergers it sees as anticompetitive. The commission has won a string of rulings against mergers between competing hospitals. The Idaho case was considered a key test for the FTC because the agency was seeking to stop a different type of transaction, the acquisition of a physician group (Kendall, 1/24).

Bloomberg: Hospital Antitrust Case Won By U.S. Over Doctor Group
Idaho's largest hospital chain and physician group must unwind their merger, a federal judge ruled, siding with U.S. regulators seeking to broaden antitrust enforcement in health-care acquisitions. The combination of St. Luke's Health System Ltd. and the Saltzer Medical Group would raise prices for consumers even though it would improve patient care, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in Boise, Idaho said today, ruling in a pair of cases brought by the Federal Trade Commission and local hospital (Zajac and McLaughlin, 1/24).

Modern Healthcare: Judge Rules St. Luke's Must Give Up Saltzer Medical Group
Health care providers and antitrust experts have watched the case closely because it's the first time that the federal courts have decided a Federal Trade Commission case against a physician practice deal. The decision comes as health care systems across the U.S. have been rapidly scooping up medical groups to create integrated delivery networks to prepare for population health management. St. Luke's Boise-based competitors St. Alphonsus Health System and Treasure Valley Hospital filed suit in 2012 to block the deal, arguing that it would give St. Luke's too much power with payers (Kutscher, 1/24).

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