Focus on Antitrust in Health Care Transactions

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On May 19, 2021, the Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights of the Committee of the Judiciary held a hearing on Antitrust Applied: Hospital Consolidation Concerns and Solutions. The subcommittee heard testimony from a health care economist, a patient, a union leader, a physician, a policy advisor, and the chair of the American Hospital Association. Their testimony was wide-ranging and diverse, but the hearing itself emphasized an increased governmental focus on health care and hospital transactions in particular. In that regard, multiple witnesses noted the need for increased funding and resources for the Federal Trade Commission’s hospital merger staff, with one noting that, in his opinion, the staff “regularly pass on transactions due to lack of staffing.”

This hearing follows on the heels of the Federal Trade Commission’s January-announced study to examine the impact of health care facility and physician group mergers, and on the annual review that showed a continued focus on reviewing health care transactions. It is reasonable to assume that hospital mergers and other health care transactions will continue to receive a high level of scrutiny in the foreseeable future.

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