Healthcare Business News

Regional News/Midwest: Ascension cites protracted FTC review as it abandons sale of hospitals to HCA

By Melanie Evans
Posted: February 8, 2014 - 12:01 am ET

Antitrust regulators apparently scuttled a deal between two giant U.S. hospital operators for two Missouri hospitals, a possible sign of the Federal Trade Commission's increasing attention to healthcare antitrust matters.

Ascension Health, St. Louis, announced it had ended talks to exit the Missouri acute-care market with the sale of St. Joseph Medical Center, Kansas City, and St. Mary's Medical Center, Blue Springs, to HCA, Nashville, after prolonged review by the FTC.

“Unfortunately, after a lengthy FTC review process, it has become clear that a timely, supportive decision from the FTC will not be forthcoming,” according to a statement released by Ascension, which owns or contract manages 103 hospitals in 19 states and Washington.

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Cyndi Fahrlander, a spokeswoman for Carondelet Health, an Ascension subsidiary that includes 191-bed St. Joseph and 131-bed St. Mary's, declined an interview request.

The deal would have strengthened HCA's already significant position in the Kansas City area, where the for-profit chain operates 10 hospitals. Ascension touted that market clout as a benefit when it announced the possible sale last May.

HCA agreed last May to acquire both hospitals and other assets totaling $282.8 million, including two surgery centers and Carondelet subsidiaries in home health, physical therapy, physician services, cardiology and pharmacy.

Follow Melanie Evans on Twitter: @MHmevans

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