The Federal Trade Commission approved a final consent order that requires Carilion Clinic, Roanoke, Va., to sell two outpatient centers acquired in 2008. The order concludes an antitrust challenge the FTC initiated in July and seals a proposed resolution posted for public comment on Oct. 7. The order calls for Carilion, which owns six hospitals and manages a seventh, to divest the Center for Advanced Imaging and Center for Surgical Excellence within three months to a buyer or buyers approved by the commission. It also requires that Carilion take steps to ensure that the businesses have a viable chance at being competitive in the market once they're cut loose. For the next year, for example, the order precludes Carilion from inhibiting its physicians from referring patients to the centers, and for the next six months, the system can't recruit physicians who are referral sources for the centers. Carilion did not concede that there was an antitrust violation presented by the acquisition of the centers, purchased from a mutual owner for $20 million in August 2008. In response to a query about the centers' status, Carilion spokesman Eric Earnhart replies that “we are moving forward and it is our intent to abide by the terms of the agreement.” In previous statements regarding the matter Carilion has emphasized that they represent a small piece of the system's business and that the consent order was “an expedient way to resolve the issue.”
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