The Federal Trade Commission filed an administrative antitrust complaint challenging Inova Health Systems planned acquisition of Prince William Health System. The commissioners also authorized the FTC lawyers to seek a preliminary injunction against the deal from a federal judge.
Inova, a five-hospital system based in Falls Church, Va., signed a deal with Prince William to absorb its 163-bed hospital in Manassas, Va., and other facilities it operates in the area. According to the FTC complaint, adding Prince William would give Inova control of 73% of the hospital beds in Northern Virginia, and together they collected 78% of inpatient revenue paid by commercial payers in 2006.
The challenge borrows from the strategy FTC lawyers levied successfully in the high-profile case involving Evanston (Ill.) Northwestern Healthcare. The complaint portrays commercial payers as the primary consumers of hospital services and argues that adding Prince William Hospital to Inovas ranks would diminish insurers ability to play hospitals off one another to negotiate lower rates.
Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell will join the FTC in the complaint expected to be filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria next week. Both organizations highlight Inovas pledge to invest more than $200 million in Prince William and argue the FTC is overlooking the benefits the proposed union promises. (For a longer version of this story, please click here.) -- by Gregg Blesch