The Federal Trade Commission announced Friday that it has rejected a proposed settlement agreement with Phoebe Putney Health System over the latter’s 2011 merger with a rival Albany hospital.
The FTC and Phoebe tentatively reached the agreement last year, appearing to put an end to what was already a long-running, complicated legal dispute. But the federal agency has been signaling for months that it might not take the deal after all.
The agency’s decision to reject the settlement revives the high-profile regulatory fight between Phoebe Putney and the FTC. The matter will now return to an administrative court, where a hearing is expected over the feds’ antitrust allegations against Phoebe.
The federal agency has contended for three years that Phoebe’s acquisition of Palmyra Medical Center violated antitrust laws, reducing competition and potentially raising prices for consumers.
“We’ve argued all along that this merger would create a monopoly in Albany that would harm consumers and employers in the region,” Deborah Feinstein, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said in a statement Friday. “Meaningful structural relief is needed to restore competition to this marketplace.”
Phoebe Putney officials called the FTC’s rejection of the deal disappointing. full story