A federal administrative law judge ruled that the 2000 merger of two-hospital Evanston (Ill.) Northwestern Healthcare and Highland Park (Ill.) Hospital violated Section 7 of the federal Clayton Act, which prohibits mergers that lessen competition. Federal Trade Commission Administrative Law Judge Stephen McGuire ruled that the merger "substantially lessened competition" and caused insurers and consumers to pay higher prices. If the decision is upheld, three-hospital Evanston Northwestern would be required to divest Highland Park Hospital within six months in one of only a few ever court-ordered breakups of a hospital merger. Evanston Northwestern is expected to appeal the ruling to the full commission.
Judge orders Ill. System to break up; appeal expected
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