Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Competition Director Holly Vedova issued the following statement regarding the decision by Utah healthcare competitors HCA Healthcare and Steward Health Care System to abandon their proposed merger:
“For the second time in a week, parties who proposed an anticompetitive hospital merger have called their deal off after the FTC filed a complaint to block the deal. This transaction, like the RWJBarnabas Health/Saint Peter’s transaction that was abandoned two days ago, should never have been proposed in the first place. This should be a lesson learned to hospital systems all over the country and their counsel: the FTC will not hesitate to take action in enforcing the antitrust laws to protect healthcare consumers who are faced with unlawful hospital consolidation. Had this transaction been allowed to proceed, it would have combined the second and fourth largest healthcare systems in Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Front region of Utah, resulting in higher prices, less innovation, and lower quality care for patients. I am glad that patients and healthcare providers will not have to endure any more uncertainty while waiting for courts to rule on the FTC’s legal challenges.”
“I would like to congratulate and thank all of our incredibly talented staff who worked on this matter. Today’s result would not have been possible without their exceptional skill, hard work, and dedication to the FTC’s mission.”
On June 2, 2022, the Commission voted 5-0 to file an administrative complaint to block the proposed transaction. The complaint alleged that the proposed acquisition would reduce the number of healthcare systems offering inpatient general acute hospital services in the Wasatch Front region of Utah, would increase market concentration significantly in already highly concentrated markets, and would eliminate Steward as a low-cost competitor.