- The Federal Trade Commission is suing to block New Jersey's largest health system, Hackensack Meridian Health, from acquiring a close competitor, Englewood Health. That system operates Englewood Hospital, an independent hospital and one of the last in the area, according to the Star-Ledger.
- After the tie-up, Hackensack would control three of the six acute care hospitals in Bergen County, the most populated county in the state.
- The loss of competition between the two would leave insurers with few options and would allow Hackensack to obtain higher prices from insurers, leading to higher premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs for consumers, the FTC alleged in a statement Thursday.
This is the third hospital acquisition the FTC has attempted to block this year after previously laying relatively low in challenging hospital mergers.
The agency sued to block a deal between Jefferson Health and Albert Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia in February and another deal in Memphis last month as Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is seeking to buy two Tenet Health hospitals there.
In each case, the FTC has argued the deals would eliminate close competitors and lead to higher costs and lower quality of care.
Hackensack Meridian Health announced the intent to merge in October 2019.
At the time, Hackensack said Englewood would become a tertiary hub for Hackensack with a focus on a slew of services lines including cardiovascular care, neurosciences and oncology. Englewood said it would also benefit from the affiliations Hackensack enjoyed with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
As part of the announcement, Hackensack committed to invest $400 million in Englewood Health.
Hackensack operates its flagship hospital, Hackensack University Medical Center, and partially owns Pascack Valley Medical Center, which are both within 10 miles of Englewood Hospital, according to the FTC.