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UHS to divest psych facility to complete Ascend deal


By Beth Kutscher
Posted: October 8, 2012 - 1:30 pm ET
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Universal Health Services, King of Prussia, Pa., will divest a psychiatric facility as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that will allow it to complete its acquisition of Ascend Health Corp.

UHS in June entered into the $517 million agreement to acquire New York-based Ascend, which owns or leases nine behavioral health facilities in five states.

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The FTC review of the deal focused on the El Paso, Texas, market, where Ascend operates University Behavioral Health. UHS is present in nearby Santa Teresa, N.M., where it owns Peak Behavioral Health Services, and the FTC argued that the deal between the two providers would create a “virtual monopoly” in the region that would allow UHS to negotiate higher rates with commercial insurers.

UHS has six months to sell the inpatient, acute-care facility to a buyer that the FTC approves. If it can't find an appropriate buyer in that time frame, the FTC will also require the publicly traded system to sell a second facility, Mesilla Valley Hospital, Las Cruces, N.M., together with Peak.

The settlement is open to public comment until Nov. 7, after which the FTC will make its final decision on the agreement.


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