The Federal Trade Commission is investigating an as-yet unannounced hospital acquisition in New Jersey, MODERN HEALTHCARE has learned.
The hospitals are 457-bed Jersey City (N.J.) Medical Center and 200-bed Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in nearby Secaucus, N.J.
A certificate-of-need application filed by the hospitals on June 1 reveals that Jersey City intends to acquire Meadowlands from Burbank, Calif.-based UniHealth America, for $24 million.
FTC officials would neither confirm nor deny that the hospitals are under investigation. However, sources familiar with the acquisition confirmed the existence of the investigation. The sources requested anonymity.
A community planning board as well as the state planning board approved the CON application, but a final decision is pending before the New Jersey health commissioner. A health department spokesman wouldn't speculate on when the commissioner might act on Jersey City's CON application.
It's not clear whether the commissioner's office is waiting for the resolution of the FTC probe to make a decision.
Executives at Jersey City declined repeated requests for interviews and referred calls to their outside legal counsel, well-known healthcare antitrust attorney Phillip Proger with Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue in Washington. But Mr. Proger declined to comment. Meanwhile, Meadowlands executives failed to return repeated calls, and UniHealth executives were unavailable for comment.
It's not known whether the hospitals notified the government of their acquisition plans and a routine investigation ensued or whether federal officials learned of the deal independently.
Jersey City and Meadowlands are two of nine acute-care hospitals in Hudson County, N.J., located across the Hudson River from New York. An acquisition would give Jersey City control of 27% of the county's staffed inpatient beds, American Hospital Association data show.
In 1992, Jersey City earned $10.4 million on revenues of $146.4 million, according to HCIA, a Baltimore-based healthcare investment research firm. In 1992, Meadowlands lost $1.9 million on revenues of $49.2 million.-David Burda