HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) — The Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) has announced it will dismiss its complaint against Cabell
Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center after it had alleged their
proposed merger violated U.S. antitrust laws.
The two medical centers are 3 miles from each other
in Huntington. The FTC dropped its complaint, which it had
originally put forward in November 2015, after the passage of a West Virginia
law regarding “cooperative agreements” between hospitals. The West Virginia
Health Care Authority approved an agreement between the two hospitals in
questions. Cooperative agreements are meant to replace antitrust enforcement
with state regulation and health care provider supervision.
“This case presents another example of health care providers
attempting to use state legislation to shield potentially anti-competitive
combinations from antitrust enforcement,” the commission wrote in a statement.
“The commission believes that state cooperative agreement laws such as SB 597
are likely to harm communities through higher health care prices and lower
health care quality. We will continue to vigorously investigate and, where
appropriate, challenge anti-competitive mergers in the courts and, if necessary,
through state cooperative agreement processes.”
The FTC voted 3-0 to approve the statement and withdraw its