FTC, “drawing a line in the sand,” files suit to put HCA deal on hold

HCA is attempting to sell three hospitals in New Orleans to Louisiana’s LCMC Health.

 

Ordinarily, the FTC needs to be notified of merger deals in advance, but HCA and LCMC didn’t file notice, claiming they were exempt because the state of Louisiana had granted them a Certificate of Public Advantage (COPA). The FTC has asked the court to put the transaction on hold so that the agency can investigate the likely effects on competition.  Read more

 

The FTC is on record strongly opposing COPAs and last year the agency released research finding that hospital mergers shielded by COPAs can result in higher costs, reduced quality of care, and lower pay for healthcare workers.  

 

Currently, 19 states have laws to authorize COPAs. In 2021, Indiana passed a COPA bill that could allow a merger of the only two hospitals in Terre Haute, Union Health and Terre Haute Regional Hospital, which is owned by HCA. 

 

The FTC’s firm stance on COPAs could call into question the merger between Union Health and Terre Haute Regional if the suit proceeds.