Evanston (Ill.) Northwestern Healthcare has satisfied a Sept. 10 deadline to respond to the Federal Trade Commission by asking for an extension. The FTC had given the three-hospital system until today to file a proposal explaining how it intends to comply with the commissions order resolving a landmark retrospective merger challenge.
The motion requesting the deadline be pushed to Sept. 17 was uncontested by the commissions staff and notes the uncertainty as to when the commission would issue its order, which came more than a year after oral arguments in the case.
The FTCs Aug. 2 opinion concluded that the systems post-merger price increases proved that its 2000 deal acquiring 172-bed Highland Park (Ill.) Hospital was anti-competitive. As a remedy, ENH was told to erect a firewall between managed-care bargaining, putting Highland Park on one side, and 125-bed Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview, Ill., and 380-bed Evanston Hospital on the other.
ENH officials described the resolution as a victory because it diverged from an administrative law judges conclusion in 2005 that the only way to restore competition was to strip Highland Park from the system, but they have yet to say whether they will challenge the decision in court.-- by Gregg Blesch
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