The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed an administrative complaint (a public version of which will be available and linked to this news release as soon as possible), and authorized a suit in federal court, to block Hackensack Meridian Health’s proposed acquisition of Englewood Healthcare Foundation.
According to the complaint, the merged healthcare system would control three of the six inpatient general acute care hospitals in Bergen County, New Jersey. The proposed acquisition would eliminate close competition between Hackensack Meridian Health and Englewood in Bergen County and leave insurers with few alternatives for inpatient general acute care services, which encompass a broad range of inpatient medical and surgical diagnostic and treatment services that require an overnight hospital stay. Hackensack Meridian Health would be able to demand higher rates from insurers for the combined entity’s services, which, in turn, may lead to higher insurance premiums, co-pays, deductibles, or other out-of-pocket costs for plan members. In addition, the elimination of competition would reduce incentives to improve quality.
“This acquisition would give the combined hospital system increased bargaining leverage, likely leading to increased prices,” said Ian Conner, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “The transaction would also remove the competitive pressures that have driven these hospitals to invest in quality improvements to the benefit of patients.”
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