FTC Staff Comment to the West Virginia House of Delegates Regarding SB 597 and the Competitive Implications of Provisions Regarding "Cooperative Agreements" Between -- and Possible Exemptions From the Federal Antitrust Laws For -- Health Care Providers

Matter Number:

V160007

Summary

FTC staff submitted a comment, in response to a request from West Virginia State Delegate Mike Pushkin, on the competitive impact of provisions in proposed legislation 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. According to the comment, the bill incorrectly assumed 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. FTC staff expressed concern “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.”