The Federal Trade Commission announced today that a federal District Court has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the proposed merger of Lucy Lee Hospital, owned by Tenet Healthcare Corporation (Tenet), and Doctors Regional Medical Center (DRMC), the only two general hospitals in Butler County, Missouri. The FTC has 20 days to issue an administrative complaint, which would continue the court's injunction pending FTC proceedings to permanently enjoin the merger.
"The court's decision preserves choice and price competition for healthcare in the Butler County, Missouri area," said Robert F. Leibenluft, the FTC's Assistant Director for Health Services and Products.
On April 16, the FTC authorized its staff to seek an injunction blocking the merger. In court, the FTC argued that the merger would be a virtual merger to monopoly, with the combined firm holding 78 percent of the market for acute-care, inpatient hospital services in the area in and around Butler County, Missouri. The FTC also presented in court testimony from third party-payers and employers in the geographic area, who -- believing that the acquisition would lead to higher prices -- voiced their opposition to the proposed merger.
The FTC has 20 days within which to determine whether to issue the administrative complaint, which would challenge the merger on antitrust grounds and mark the beginning of the administrative trial process. This process would determine whether or not the merger should be permanently blocked.
Copies of the court order will be available upon filing from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-382-4357 (FTC-HELP); TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(FTC File No.: 971 0090)