FTC Staff: Proposed Health Care Legislation in West Virginia Would Likely Be Anticompetitive and Harm Consumers

For Your Information

Federal Trade Commission staff submitted written comments on the competitive impact of provisions in proposed legislation in West Virginia that would provide for  “cooperative agreements” between health care providers, and provisions purporting to confer “exemptions” from federal antitrust laws on certain health care providers. The comments are in response to a request from West Virginia State Delegate Mike Pushkin.

As stated in the comment by staff of the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning and its Bureaus of Competition and Economics, Senate Bill 597 incorrectly assumes that the antitrust laws prohibit efficient health care mergers, acquisitions, and collaborations. Given that federal and state antitrust laws already permit cooperative agreements that are likely to benefit consumers, the purported antitrust exemption would have no procompetitive application. Instead, “FTC staff are concerned that this legislation is likely to foster mergers and conduct that are anticompetitive, inconsistent with federal antitrust law and policy, and liable to cause serious harm to West Virginia health care consumers,” the comment concludes.

The Commission vote to issue the staff comments was 4-0. (FTC File No. V160007; the staff contact is Daniel J. Gilman, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-3136.)

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