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Georgia hospital merger may be DOA

The Deal, August 23, 2012

The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have told the U.S. Supreme Court that lower courts' misreading of the "state action doctrine" in a key hospital merger case has harmed consumers in Georgia. In a brief filed late Monday, the FTC and the Obama administration warned that if the justices validate the lower court rulings that cleared Phoebe Putney Health System Inc.'s $195 million purchase of Palmyra Park Hospital Inc. last year, there will be more anticompetitive hospital and utility acquisitions. The lower courts found that even though the merger would give Phoebe Putney 85% of the Albany, Ga., hospital market, a level that is presumptively illegal, it was permissible.