Eleven states have joined the Federal Trade Commission's fight to stop a merger between two Chicago-area health systems.
The states, which include Idaho, Iowa and Minnesota, want a federal appeals court to pause a merger between Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University HealthSystem to give the federal agency time to hold its own administrative hearings on the matter. In an amicus brief, the states argue that the lower court incorrectly sided with the health systems, creating a precedent that could dampen healthcare competition across the nation.
“Allowing this decision to stand ultimately inhibits the ability of law enforcers to carry out their statutorily imposed duty—ensuring that consumers receive the benefits of vigorous competition in healthcare markets around the country,” according to the brief.
Advocate and NorthShore argued in court that the FTC incorrectly defined their geographic market, leaving out key competitors such as Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago.
In his opinion denying the FTC's request to halt the merger, U.S. District Judge Jorge Alonso agreed.
The FTC has appealed that decision, and arguments are set for Aug. 19. Healthcare leaders across the country are watching the case closely as systems increasingly look to consolidate.