Sixth Circuit Upholds FTC Decision to Block Hospital Merger – In an opinion issued last week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the FTC’s decision that a 2010 merger in Lucas County, Ohio between ProMedica, described in the opinion as the “county’s dominant hospital provider,” and St. Luke’s, an independent community hospital, would adversely affect competition in violation of federal antitrust laws and that ProMedica must divest St. Luke’s. In line with its continued close monitoring of health care competition, the FTC responded to the outcome, stating, “As this decision demonstrates, the FTC's vigilant enforcement of the antitrust laws in health care provider markets helps deliver lower cost, higher quality health care to consumers.” ProMedica has made clear its intent to appeal the decision. The FTC’s press release on the opinion can be found here.
HIPAA Settlements Reached in Stolen Laptop Cases – Two covered entities have entered into agreements with OCR to resolve potential privacy violations under HIPAA. The entities, paying $1,725,220 and $250,000, respectively, settled with OCR as a result of two stolen unencrypted laptops that contained patient health information. In addition to the resolution amounts, each entity also entered into a corrective action plan, both of which include obligations to educate staff on security and privacy of patient health information. A copy of the OCR’s press release on the settlements may be found here.