Like other players in the healthcare industry, physician groups are facing increased antitrust scrutiny from the Biden administration, with the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) and Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (the “DOJ”) (together the “Agencies”) continuing to expand their enforcement focus to include all types of transactions involving physician groups, including both traditional combinations, as well as so-called vertical combinations with health systems, payors, and private equity investors.
Continue Reading Healthcare Antitrust Update: Key Antitrust Takeaways for Physician Groups

As it continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare sector will face increased antitrust scrutiny from the Biden administration, with the Federal Trade Commission (the “FTC”) and Department of Justice, Antitrust Division (the “DOJ”) (together the “Agencies”) as the Agencies ramp up their reviews not just of “horizontal” transactions (i.e., deals between competitors), but also of “vertical” transactions (i.e., deals that combine market participants at different levels of the healthcare industry, such as payors, hospitals, and physician practices).
Continue Reading Vertical Deals in Healthcare: Key Antitrust Takeaways for Private Equity Firms

On May 7, 2019, The Governor of the State of Washington signed into law Substitute House Bill 1607 (“HB 1607”) – a first-of-its-kind premerger notification requirement covering healthcare transactions closing on or after January 1, 2020. HB 1607 is a timely reminder that state attorneys general have not hesitated in recent years to enforce both federal and their own state antitrust laws when a transaction poses local anticompetitive concerns.
Continue Reading The State of Washington Has Another Arrow in its Healthcare Antitrust Quiver: State Healthcare Antitrust Enforcement in the Spotlight

Category: Antitrust

On January 23, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (“Third Circuit”) issued an opinion denying the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania the right to recover attorney’s fees after it had successfully blocked a hospital merger. The Third Circuit determined that the state had no federal statutory basis to be awarded attorney’s fees since the injunction had been granted under Section 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (“FTC Act”), which does not provide for attorneys’ fees, rather than Section 16 of the Clayton Act.

This case establishes binding precedent in the Third Circuit that state attorneys general will only have standing to seek attorneys’ fees in antitrust actions under the Clayton Act when the state actually litigates the case under that section. It also potentially has broader implications if other circuits decide to look to this decision as persuasive authority when deciding similar cases in their jurisdictions.
Continue Reading Third Circuit Rejects State’s Bid for Attorney’s Fees in Hospital Merger Dispute

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in San Francisco County Superior Court on March 29, 2018 (the “Complaint”), alleging that Sutter Health (“Sutter”), one of Northern California’s largest healthcare providers, engaged in unlawful conduct in violation of California’s Cartwright Act (the “Act”).[1]  Sutter Health has a substantial healthcare network that includes: 24 hospitals, 35 outpatient centers, physician’s organizations with over 5,500 members, and over 12,000 other physicians who partner with Sutter.
Continue Reading California Sues Sutter Health Alleging Anti-Competitive Practices

On April 28, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a February 8, 2017 decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to block the $54 billion acquisition of Cigna Corp. by Anthem, Inc.. U.S. et al. v. Anthem Inc. et al., case number 17-5024, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Continue Reading Has the Acquisition of Cigna Corp. by Anthem, Inc. Been Relegated to the Dustbin of History? Stay Tuned!

The ancient Chinese curse – “May you live in interesting times” – certainly springs to mind these days.  What does the election of Donald Trump mean for the healthcare industry, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and current healthcare market trends?  Let’s take a quick look at the likely effects of the election, but first let’s set the stage:

Background Data:

  • Per a July 2016 federal Department of Health and Human Services study, it is estimated that 18% of 2016 personal income in aggregate will be spent on healthcare, with 5% of the population accounting for nearly half of the estimated $3.3 trillion 2016 healthcare spending and 50% of the population spending less than $3,000 each.
  • The healthcare cost reduction effect of the Great Recession has dissipated, with an anticipated healthcare cost increase of over 5% per year projected through 2025. The economic drag on the U.S. economy of healthcare spending has returned to almost pre-recession levels, and accountable care organization (ACO) savings to date have been relatively nominal.
  • Once aged in, Medicare will have over 70 million Baby Boomer generation seniors to care for…and with rising life expectancy comes greater lifetime healthcare costs.
  • The United States will have a shortfall of doctors before 2025, with a significant primary care shortfall expected, a significant shortage of doctors available who accept Medicaid and the U.S. ranked as the 24th of 28 countries by the number of doctors per thousand people among the Organization for Economic Development countries.
  • 20 million people were afforded insurance under ACA programs, including over 9 – 11 million (varies depending on source studies) in 2016 through the insurance exchanges and the remainder through Medicaid expansion in 32 states (as of September 2016).
  • Approximately 73 million Americans were covered by Medicaid or CHIP. Federal subsidies for Medicaid expansion are to trend downwards to 90% by 2020.  A growing number of states are moving toward managed Medicaid programs in an effort to contain costs that, in some instances, previously threatened to bankrupt state budgets in the absence of further tax increases.


Continue Reading “May You Live in Interesting Times” – Some Healthcare Predictions for the Trump Administration’s First Year

By David R. Garcia

Just three days after the Federal Trade Commission, jointly with the Pennsylvania Attorney General, issued an administrative complaint challenging Reading Health System’s (RHS) proposed acquisition of Surgical Institute of Reading L.P. (SIR), a 15-bed surgical specialty center, both entities abandoned the proposed acquisition, citing the high costs associated with a protracted court battle with the government. This FTC victory provides more valuable insight into how antitrust enforcement agencies are evaluating the increasing number of consolidations within the healthcare industry, particularly after passage of the Affordable Care Act. Specifically, this case highlights the government’s very granular analysis of effects on competition through highly specialized “service markets,” as well as the risk for entities that ordinary-course-of-business documents surrounding the proposed consolidation can play a significant role in the government’s challenge. It also appears to be another example of an FTC challenge to a transaction below the Hart-Scott-Rodino reporting threshold.


Continue Reading Large General Acute-Care Hospital Abandons Acquisition Of 15-Bed Surgical Specialty Center As A Result Of FTC Challenge

By David Garcia

In the first challenge against anticompetitive unilateral conduct since 1999, the Department of Justice reached a proposed settlement with a Texas hospital to enjoin it from entering into exclusionary contracts that effectively prevented commercial health insurers from also contracting with the hospital’s rivals.

Continue Reading First Section 2 Monopolization Case Of the Obama Administration Targets Dominant Texas Health Care Provider

By Neil Ray

In May 2010, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division, Christine Varney, referred to the essential role that antitrust has in preserving and protecting competition which together with regulation can be harnessed to expand coverage, improve quality and control the cost of health care.   
 


Continue Reading Healthcare Sector Comes Under Increased Government Antitrust Scrutiny

By Heather M. Cooper

I. Introduction

Thanks to a recent federal district court decision, physicians and medical staff have more reason to think twice about price and other arrangements adopted by the practice associations and clinics to which they belong. Last Spring, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California held that a hospital and a physicians practice association, and a hospital and the physicians that provide services to it under contract, may be sufficiently distinct separate economic actors capable of conspiring with each other under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.[1] The court denied a motion to dismiss a complaint that alleged that a hospital and two independent physician practice associations conspired to restrain trade in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act by prohibiting neonatologists who did not agree to practice exclusively at the hospital or refer cases to doctors practicing exclusively neonatology at the hospital, from using the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (“NICU”).
 


Continue Reading Federal Courts and Enforcers Diagnose Physician Practice Associations with Risk of Conspiracy Liability: Degree of Integration is Crucial to Challenges to Medical Network Price Agreements