Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University HealthSystem will continue their fight to merge despite a recent court ruling that weakened their case.
“We remain steadfast in our belief that bringing our organizations together is the right thing to do for consumers and therefore we are choosing to move forward with our case,” the health systems said in a joint statement. “We are confident that Judge Jorge Alonso made the right decision in our favor this past summer, reaffirming the competitive realities of the Chicago market. We look forward to a positive resolution—paving the way for an innovative care delivery model to further advance quality and lower costs.”
A spokeswoman for the Federal Trade Commission, which is fighting to block the union, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The announcement comes after the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last month that Alonso's decision in the lower U.S. District Court not to pause the proposed merger over antitrust concerns was “erroneously flawed.” The health systems and the FTC have sparred over how they each defined the north suburban hospital market and how the systems' marriage would affect employers, patients and insurers.
Downers Grove-based Advocate, the largest hospital network in Illinois, and Evanston-based NorthShore, a four-hospital system, proposed merging in 2014. Combined, the 16-hospital system would stretch from north suburban Libertyville to downstate Normal. The hospital networks had a total of $7.02 billion in annual revenue in 2015.
The FTC took its case to court in December, alleging the merger would “substantially lessen competition and cause significant harm” to consumers by increasing health care costs.
The proposed new system, which would be called Advocate NorthShore Health Partners, would create the 11th largest nonprofit hospital network in the nation and command about 60 percent of hospital services in the northern suburbs, the FTC alleged.
Advocate and NorthShore countered that the FTC wrongly defined their market, that their North Shore market share is closer to 30 percent, and that they would save consumers up to $1.1 billion a year with a new health insurance plan.
An FTC administrative hearing that was slated to begin on Nov. 21 has been delayed.
"Advocate, NorthShore vow to continue fight to merge" originally appeared in Crain's Chicago Business.