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Supreme Court urged to reject FTC challenge to Georgia hospital acquisition

October 10, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court should affirm the dismissal of a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit challenging Phoebe Putney Health System's proposed acquisition of Palmyra Park Hospital in Albany, GA, the AHA and Georgia Hospital Association said in a friend-of-court brief filed yesterday. "AHA has a specific interest in this case, because many of its member hospitals are publicly owned and operated by state and local governments," the brief states. "It seeks to ensure that state-action doctrine is applied in a manner that does not impede the valuable work of America's public hospitals." The FTC alleged the health system structured the acquisition in a way that attempts to shield it from federal antitrust scrutiny under the "state action" doctrine, which provides an antitrust exemption for certain government actions. "Because the Eleventh Circuit's test is faithful to the plain-statement rule and the federalism principles that gave rise to it (whereas the FTC's proposed approach is not), the Court should reject the FTC's interpretation in this case," the brief states.