Patient Outcomes vs. Competition: Squaring the Circle in FTC v. St. Lukes

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Kent Bernard, Sep 30, 2014

Whether the District Court decision in FTC v. St. Luke’s is a significant step in the evolution of the application of antitrust law to health care, or whether it is merely a “one off” resulting from the tactical decisions of the parties of how to litigate the case, remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that the way in which antitrust and health care law function together, and how the seemingly competing priorities of the laws are to be harmonized, is a debate that is just beginning.

The premises driving health care reform reflect a different view of what should take place in the marketplace than the view assumed by traditional antitrust law. For now, the way that we as a society pay for health care serves to reinforce the traditional antitrust approach. But if the changes envisioned by the health care reform laws actually come to pass, antitrust may have to make a major adjustment.