6 things to know about a bill that would lead to more hospital mergers

The House of Representatives passed a Republican-sponsored bill, the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act, that would make it easier for hospitals to merge, removing roadblocks from antitrust challenges, according to a Crain's Detroit report.

Here are six key notes:

1. The American Hospital Association supports the bill which "removes a deterrent to hospital integration and realignment, which is essential for success in the changing healthcare landscape." The SMARTER Act would align the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission process for challenging mergers, according to the report.

2. The SMARTER Act changes the litigation process, litigating the Justice Department challenges in federal court and eliminating the FTC's administrative hearings. The FTC would instead work through merger challenges only through the courts.

3. The AHA maintains some hospitals decide not to undergo lawful mergers due to the expense associated with potential litigation.

2. The FTC currently must prove a preliminary injunction is in the public interest while the Justice Department proves a "substantial likelihood" of winning an injunction blocking the deal while merger challenges are litigated.

5. The bill's opponents reject the elimination of the FTC's hearing power; the FTC has been successful in challenging hospital mergers in the recent past, according to the report. The FTC's administrative process has helped shape merger policy in the United States.

6. Its unlikely President Barack Obama will sign the bill, even if it passes the Senate, but it could have a chance under the next president if Republicans win in November.

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