In 2011, the FTC challenged the health system's $200 million acquisition of Palmyra from HCA, saying the deal would reduce competition and allow the combined hospitals to raise prices, harming patients and local employers. An appellate court ruled that Phoebe Putney and its parent hospital authority were exempt from federal antitrust review. The government then brought the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which reversed that decision in 2013.
Last year, however, the FTC accepted a proposed consent agreement that would have allowed Phoebe Putney to keep Palmyra under certain conditions, after the FTC concluded that Georgia's certificate-of-need laws would preclude Phoebe Putney from divesting Palmyra. But then, after a separate entity expressed interest in buying Palmyra, the Georgia Department of Community Health issued a determination letter saying that such an acquisition would not require a certificate-of-need review. The FTC then resumed efforts to force a separation of the hospitals.
Phoebe Putney appealed the conclusion of that determination letter to a DCH hearing officer who overturned it.
Phoebe Putney now wants a halt to proceedings over separating the hospitals until after the state makes a final decision about whether certificate-of-need laws apply to the situation.
Lawyers for Phoebe Putney argued in the motion filed Tuesday that putting proceedings on hold would save “significant resources and millions of dollars that could be used for the care of the residents of Southwest Georgia.”
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