It's a case with potential implications nationwide as more hospitals seek to expand through consolidations and acquisitions in efforts to improve care and lower cost. They're faced with the challenge of doing so without violating antitrust laws.
The Ohio health system filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court in late December, asking the court to hear the case. The court has yet to schedule the case for a conference, in which the justices generally decide whether to take on cases.
The Supreme Court filing follows an April ruling in which a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati sided with the Federal Trade Commission, ordering ProMedica to divest St. Luke's Hospital in Maumee, Ohio. In that opinion, the judges said the acquisition would reduce competition leading to higher prices for patients and insurers.
Attorneys for ProMedica have argued that the circuit court's opinion was flawed in assuming that greater market share would lead to price increases. They also have said that selling the community hospital would lead to the hospital's demise.
A second but separate high-profile case also centers on the question of how large health systems may get without running afoul of antitrust laws. In that case, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th District is considering whether Idaho-based St. Luke's Health System's 2012 acquisition of a medical group was anti-competitive. Arguments were heard in that case in November, and a decision is pending.
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