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Richard Feinstein, Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition, issued a statement on the decision by Providence Health & Services to abandon its plans to acquire Spokane Cardiology and Heart Clinics Northwest in Spokane, Washington.

On July 21, 2010, Providence Health & Services announced its intention to acquire the two clinics, in a deal that did not have to be reported to the FTC. Agency staff, working with staff of the Antitrust Division of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, conducted an investigation of the proposed acquisitions and preliminarily concluded that they were likely to have anticompetitive effects. Providence Health & Services abandoned its plans to acquire the clinics in mid-February of this year.

In his statement, Feinstein writes that while the Bureau of Competition “recognizes that physicians across the country are exploring a variety of new business arrangements as part of an effort to achieve cost containment and quality objectives,” in some cases such arrangements can create highly concentrated markets that can harm consumers through higher prices or lower quality of care.

“As reflected by this investigation and its resolution, the Commission will aggressively enforce the antitrust laws to ensure that consolidation among health care providers will not increase health care costs in local communities across the United States,” the statement concludes.

The FTC’s Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action. To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to, or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Room 394, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. To learn more about the Bureau of Competition, read “Competition Counts” at

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