Photo: Hackensack Meridian Health
A federal appeals court has upheld the Federal Trade Commission’s preliminary injunction against Hackensack Meridian Health from acquiring the Englewood Healthcare Foundation.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the district court’s August 2021 preliminary injunction.
The administrative trial is scheduled to begin on April 22, according to the FTC.
WHY THIS MATTERS
The FTC has cited anti-competition concerns over the merger’s high market concentration in Bergen County.
The acquisition of the acute care teaching hospital in Englewood by the large New Jersey health system would mean the merged healthcare system would control three of the six inpatient general acute care hospitals in Bergen County, New Jersey, the FTC said in the complaint.
It would leave insurers with few alternatives for inpatient general acute care services, which encompass a broad range of inpatient medical and surgical diagnostic and treatment services that require an overnight hospital stay, the FTC said.
FTC Bureau of Competition Deputy Director John M. Newman said by statement, “Today’s win affirms the FTC’s consistent position: that patients and their families in Bergen County, New Jersey would be poorly served by this anticompetitive merger. Had it been allowed to proceed, patients would have been left with fewer alternatives for inpatient general acute care services, which likely would have driven up prices and diminished the quality of care available in the area.”
THE LARGER TREND
Hackensack Meridian Health and Englewood Health have been seeking to merge since 2019.
In December 2020, the FTC filed an administrative complaint against the merger. Hackensack filed an appeal in August 2021 in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.
In November 2021, a multistate coalition of attorneys general, led by California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, joined to block the merger in filing an amicus brief.
Email the writer: SMorse@himss.org