The Federal Trade Commission strongly opposed a bill in North Carolina that would prevent antitrust officials from challenging anticompetitive mergers and conduct by the University of North Carolina Health Care System. The opposition was conveyed through a letter addressed to members of the North Carolina House Health Committee.
The FTC states that North Carolina Senate Bill 743 may enable acquisitions, market allocation, information sharing, and joint contract negotiations, which can potentially decrease competition among providers resulting in higher costs, lower quality, reduced innovation and access to care, and lower wages for hospital workers.
On May 1, the North Carolina State Senate unanimously passed legislation that is currently awaiting approval by the North Carolina House. The legislation contains a provision that would provide UNC Health and its collaborating entities with defense against antitrust enforcement for mergers or coordinated activity deemed unlawful under the state action legal doctrine, as reported by the FTC.
The agency has expressed concerns regarding legislation in other states that could potentially provide extensive antitrust protections to public health organizations.