Phoebe Put­ney fights back against FTC for ‘med­dling’

Modern Healthcare - - Late News -

Phoebe Put­ney Health Sys­tem, Al­bany, Ga., has fought back against the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion’s “med­dling” with the $195 mil­lion ac­qui­si­tion of its sole com­peti­tor, Palmyra Park Hos­pi­tal. In briefs filed with the 11th Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in Atlanta, Phoebe Put­ney de­fended the pro­posed pur­chase of Palmyra Park from for-profit hos­pi­tal op­er­a­tor HCA, which the FTC told the court agreed only to sell the hos­pi­tal with a prom­ise that a pub­lic hos­pi­tal au­thor­ity would pay more than twice the hos­pi­tal’s an­nual rev­enue. The lit­i­ga­tion hinges on the hos­pi­tals’ ar­gu­ment that the deal is im­mune from an­titrust re­view be­cause the le­gal pur­chaser will be the Hos­pi­tal Au­thor­ity of Al­bany-Dougherty County, which also owns Phoebe Put­ney Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal. “This trans­ac­tion is be­tween a will­ing seller, HCA, and our com­mu­nity’s hos­pi­tal au­thor­ity,” Phoebe Pres­i­dent and CEO Joel Wer­nick said in a news re­lease. “We be­lieve the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear this trans­ac­tion is be­yond FTC med­dling.” The FTC ar­gues that not-for-profit Phoebe Put­ney Health Sys­tem, which leases the hos­pi­tal from the pub­lic for $1 a year, is us­ing the hos­pi­tal au­thor­ity as a “straw­man” to shield the sale from scru­tiny. A U.S. district judge in Al­bany re­jected that ar­gu­ment in June, and the FTC ap­pealed.

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