FYI: Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation Applies for Approval to Divest North Okaloosa Medical Center in Crestview, Florida...

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Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation has applied to the Federal Trade Commission for approval to divest the North Okaloosa Medical Center in Crestview, Florida, to Community Health Systems, Inc. of Brentwood, Tennessee. As part of the deal, Columbia will acquire three small Community hospitals in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area: The University General Hospital and the Women's Hospital and Medical Center, both in Seminole; and Pinellas Community Hospital, in Pinellas Park. Columbia also will acquire Community's Hillside Hospital, located in Pulaski, Tennessee.

The application will be subject to public comment for 30 days, until Dec. 14.

Columbia/HCA, the parent company of Healthtrust, Inc. - The Hospital Company, is based in Nashville, Tennessee. This and other divestitures are required under a 1995 consent order Columbia/HCA signed to settle FTC charges that its $3 billion merger with Healthtrust would impair hospital competition -- leading to higher prices, reduced services, or both -- in areas of Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Utah. To restore that competition, the consent order requires a total of seven divestitures, and also mandates that Columbia/HCA terminate its participation in a joint venture. The divestitures must be completed within specified timelines to Commission-approved acquirers, and Columbia/HCA is required to keep the hospitals to be divested marketable and viable pending divestiture.

The application announced today follows applications for five other divestitures that the FTC announced for public comment in October. These applications involved hospitals in Layton, West Valley City and West Jordan, Utah; and Milton, Florida According to the application announced for public comment today, Community Health Systems, Inc. is a financially-strong firm with substantial experience in owning and operating acute- care hospitals. It also would be a new entrant into the acute care hospital market in the Okaloosa County, Florida, area. Thus, the application states, the divestiture to Community would achieve the goal of the Commission order to establish a vigorous competitor in the provision of acute care inpatient services in the area.

Comments on the application should be addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.

Copies of the application, as well as the 1995 consent 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 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:

(FTC Docket No. C-3619)

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