David Burda: Hello everyone. This is Dave Burda, editor of Modern Healthcare and Modern Physician magazines. Visiting with us today is Mark Neaman, president and CEO of the NorthShore University HealthSystem based in Evanston, Ill. In 2007, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that NorthShore's acquisition of a third hospital way back in the year 2000 violated federal antitrust law. The ruling allowed NorthShore to keep the third hospital but operate under a rigid set of contracting rules. Mark, your system decided not to appeal the FTC's ruling. What factors led you to that decision?
Mark Neaman: A couple of different factors were important at the time. One was that we had spent about five years and a considerable sum of money in dealing with the overall agreement with the Federal Trade Commission. We thought at the time that the agreement was livable for us, and principally that we were able to keep the Highland Park (Ill.) Hospital as a part of our family. Given that the future costs and risks association with appeal were pretty big, we thought it best to accept the deal that we had, the arrangement that had been worked out with the Federal Trade Commission, and to positively move ahead.
David Burda: How has NorthShore functioned under the rules set out by the Federal Trade Commission?
Mark Neaman: We've been very fortunate. The hospitals have worked very well together. It has not been an onerous kind of a solution that we entered into with the Federal Trade Commission. We're very diligent in making sure that we undertake all of the steps that are required by the Federal Trade Commission. But we've been able to move ahead quite successfully.