The two academic medical centers say they "remain confident our merger will result in continued high-quality care for our consumers."
Federal and Pennsylvania regulators are moving jointly to block the proposed merger of Jefferson Health and Albert Einstein Healthcare Network, claiming the consolidation would reduce competition in Philadelphia and neighboring Montgomery County.
"Patients in the Philadelphia region have benefitted enormously from the competition between the Jefferson and Einstein systems," Ian Conner, director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Competition, said in a media release.
"This merger would eliminate the competitive pressure that has driven quality improvements and lowered rates. Throughout our investigation, we have benefited from close cooperation with our partners in the Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania," he said.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said his office worked with the two health systems for several months to develop a plan that would allow the merger to go forward but protect patients from a loss of access and rising costs.
"Unfortunately, the deal Jefferson and Einstein have put forward does not do enough to ensure the ongoing stability of Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia as a key, full-service care provider for the people of North Philadelphia," he said.
"Furthermore, the deal as it stands now does not do enough to maintain competition in the Montgomery County hospital and rehab markets, which would lead to higher costs for patients. As such, my office is joining with the FTC to block this merger as it is currently proposed."
The FTC and Shapiro's office this week asked a federal court in Philadephia for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to stop the merger and maintain the status quo pending an administrative hearing in September.
Jefferson and Albert Einstein issued a joint statement saying they would "review the challenge to better understand both their position and how to best move forward."
"We believe we have presented a strong and comprehensive case as to how the merger would benefit the patients we serve and advance our academic mission without reducing competition for healthcare services," the statement read.
"At a time when regional and national politicians and leaders are seeking ways to better support essential safety net hospitals, we see this merger as a creative solution to preserve access and enhance services to the residents of North Philadelphia."
Einstein Healthcare Network and Jefferson Health were part of the same organization before they split a decade ago. In March 2018 they signed a letter of intent to unite once again.
The FTC and the Pennsylvania AG said that the merged health systems would control 60% of the inpatient general acute care services in the North Philadelphia market, 45% of the GAC market in Montgomery County, and 70% of the inpatient rehabilitation services market for the Philadelphia market.
Despite the hurdles erected by state and federal regulators, Jefferson and Einstein said Thursday that they "remain confident our merger will result in continued high-quality care for our consumers."
"Our goal is to broaden our delivery of accessible and value-based care to patients and provide an exceptional education and training experience for our students," the statement said. "We are two like-minded, culturally aligned organizations with a mutual goal of improving lives for all of our patients, particularly the most vulnerable in the Philadelphia area."
“This merger would eliminate the competitive pressure that has driven quality improvements and lowered rates.”
Ian Conner, director, FTC Bureau of Competition,
John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.
The FTC and the Pennsylvania AG want a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to stop the merger until an administrative hearing in September.
Regulators say the merged health systems would control 60% of inpatient acute care services and 70% of the inpatient rehab services in Philadephia markets.