- A new bill, introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, would require hospital and health system mergers to be reviewed solely through the federal courts. This would change the current Federal Trade Commission policy of using litigation and preliminary injunctions in federal courts.
- The Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act of 2014 is being backed by the American Hospital Association. The organization said in a letter to the House Judiciary Committee that the bill will reduce the "double jeopardy" policy that is currently in place.
- The AHA is proposing a provision in the bill that would require closing statements from federal antitrust agencies that don't challenge a transaction. This, they said, would allow hospitals to better understand which kinds of mergers might bring on antitrust problems.
There is little surprise that merger review is coming under scrutiny with the number of hospital mergers increasing in recent years. According to a report by the Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy, there were 100 mergers affecting 247 hospitals in 2012, up from 52 mergers including 80 hospitals in 2009.
In a letter written in support of the legislation, the AHA said hospitals should not have to go through "administrative litigation at the same time pursuing a preliminary injunction in federal court. This unfair and punitive tactic should not be permitted."
Want to read more? You might enjoy this story about the recent merger between two of Chicago's dominant health systems.