Mark Horoschak, who heads the Federal Trade Commission's healthcare antitrust enforcement efforts, is leaving the agency to go into private practice.
Horoschak, 43, this fall will join the Charlotte, N.C.-based law firm of Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice, where he will practice antitrust law with an emphasis on healthcare antitrust matters.
He has served as assistant director in charge of healthcare in the FTC's bureau of competition since September 1989. He'll be leaving his post at the end of September.
Horoschak oversaw the agency's healthcare antitrust enforcement efforts during a period in which traditional antitrust laws and enforcement policies went head to head with the merger and acquisition frenzy in healthcare, particularly in the hospital industry.
During the period, the hospital industry, led by the American Hospital Association, argued that federal antitrust laws and enforcement policies barred or inhibited collaborative arrangements among hospitals that would benefit consumers. At the same time, however, statistical evidence showed that the federal government challenged just a small percentage of hospitals that sought antitrust clearance.
The contrasting views led to two sets of healthcare antitrust enforcement guidelines jointly released in 1993 and revised in 1994 by the FTC and the Justice Department. The guidelines attempted to clarify the application of federal antitrust laws to healthcare providers without changing the laws themselves.
Horoschak, known as a staunch supporter of the competitive model in the healthcare marketplace, nonetheless will be remembered as an agency official open to arguments in favor of allowing healthcare providers to put together huge deals that greatly increased their market shares.
During his tenure, Columbia Hospital Corp. merged with Galen Health Care in 1993, merged with Hospital Corporation of America in 1994 and acquired Healthtrust earlier this year to form the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain. Columbia did so with relatively little antitrust interference from the FTC, which reviewed the deals.
On the other hand, the agency was the first to block a proposed hospital merger in a two-hospital town. Prior to stopping the Pueblo, Colo., deal, neither the FTC nor the Justice Department had ever stopped a proposed merger in a town of only two acute-care facilities.
The FTC under Horoschak also stopped hospital deals in several small markets, including Augusta, Ga., and Port Huron, Mich.