The Federal Trade Commission has given final approval to a consent agreement with Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp., settling charges that its acquisition of John Randolph Medical Center in Hopewell, Virginia, would violate the federal antitrust laws. Prior to the acquisition, Columbia/ HCA already owned one psychiatric hospital in Petersburg, Virgnia. The FTC alleged that the hospital chain's acquisition of John Randolph, which has an inpatient psychiatric unit, would boost Columbia/HCA's market share for psychiatric hospital services in the "Tri-Cities" area of south central Virginia (Petersburg and nearby communities) from 50 percent to more than 70 percent. The Commission's action makes the consent order provisions binding on the respondent.
Columbia/HCA is based in Nashville, Tennessee.
The final order requires Columbia/HCA to divest Poplar Springs Hospital, the psychiatric hospital it owns in Petersburg, Virginia, to an FTC-approved entity that will operate it in competition with Columbia/HCA, thus restoring the competition allegedly lost in the acquisition of John Randolph. The divestiture must be completed within 12 months. Under an agreement accompanying the consent order, Columbia/HCA must operate Poplar Springs as a viable psychiatric hospital independent of John Randolph and Columbia/HCA's other hospitals until it is divested.
The final order also requires Columbia/HCA, for 10 years, to notify the FTC before combining its psychiatric facility with any other psychiatric hospital facility in the Tri-Cities area of south central Virginia.
The consent agreement was announced for public comment on Aug. 29, and issued in final form on Nov. 24. The Commission vote on final issuance was 5- 0.
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000.
A news release summarizing the complaint and consent agreement was issued at the time the Commission accepted the consent agreement for public comment. Copies of that release, the complaint and final order are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases, consumer brochures and other documents also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC File No. 951 0044)
(Docket No. C-3627)