FTC Warns Against Shielding Hospital Mergers From Antitrust Enforcement

A report from the Federal Trade Commission is warning state lawmakers about the dangers of shielding hospital mergers from federal antitrust scrutiny in exchange for prolonged state oversight.

The report released on Monday compiles research that shows these arrangements, often called Certificates of Public Advantage, result in higher prices, lower quality of care and lower wage growth for employees.

Despite hospitals’ claims about the benefits of COPAs, “we are not aware of any proven benefits of COPAs,” FTC Director of Policy Planning Elizabeth Wilkins said in a statement. “We urge state lawmakers to consult local health insurers, employers, and workers regarding the potential impact of COPA legislation.”

COPAs rarely make good on their promises, the FTC said, and lawmakers should remain skeptical of these arrangements.

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