The healthcare deals in the FTC's crosshairs

Healthcare deals are heating up as costs rise to provide healthcare services without a similar increase in pay. The Federal Trade Commision is keeping a close eye on industry transactions to halt any anticompetitive behavior.

Four healthcare deals under scrutiny:

1. The proposed merger between Lifespan and Care New England is on the rocks after the FTC and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha said they would sue to challenge the deal Feb. 17. The merged entity would own eight of the state's 13 hospitals and 80 percent of hospital beds in the market if the deal goes through. Mr. Neronha raised concerns that the merger would increase healthcare costs.

2. The FTC approved a final order in January imposing strict limits on future mergers by DaVita, a dialysis service provider, stating its acquisition of Salt Lake City-based University of Utah Health's dialysis clinics would be anticompetitive. DaVita was required to sell three dialysis clinics to Sanderling Renal Services and won't be able to enforce noncompete agreements or other employee restrictions under its final agreement with the FTC. DaVita must also obtain prior approval to acquire new ownership in any Utah-based dialysis clinic for the next 10 years.

3. The FTC is examining Oracle's planned $28 billion deal to acquire Cerner. Its 15-day deadline for reviewing the deal under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act ended Feb. 22. Cerner stockholders allege Cerner had insufficient or incorrect information in its disclosures.

4. Last September, the FTC requested information about a merger between Southfield, Mich.-based Beaumont Health and Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Spectrum. The two health systems signed a formal agreement to merge and create a 22-hospital system. The FTC said it would take longer than usual to approve the deal due to a backlog of merger filings in all industries.


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