After a nearly three-year antitrust fight with the U.S. Justice Department, the only two hospitals in Dubuque, Iowa, have called off their controversial mergerlike partnership.
The breakup was initiated by 143-bed Finley Hospital, whose executives said the agreement made sense when conceived in 1993 but that marketplace changes made it less attractive today. Executives of Finley's former partner, 385-bed Mercy Medical Center, said they would prefer to go ahead with the proposal if they win in court.
The Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit against the hospitals was thrown out by a federal district court judge, who said the hospitals competed in a much wider geographic market. The government's appeal was heard by a federal appellate court last fall, and that decision is pending.