AG files to stop Phoebe (Updated with Wernick comments) -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

AG files to stop Phoebe (Updated with Wernick comments)

Phoebe chief Joel Wernick Phoebe chief Joel Wernick

Saying that the merger of the two hospitals would hurt medical care competition in Albany and the metro area, the Attorney General's Office joined the FTC in asking a federal judge to put a hold on the merger of Phoebe and Palmyra.

The A. G. also says that Phoebe has hidden behind the Dougherty County Hospital Authority to keep anti-competitive activity from coming under federal antitrust laws.

Phoebe chief Joel Wernick tells WALB's Jennifer Emert that he is "Disheartened by the complaint from the Attorney General."

He went on to say that Phoebe Putney memorial Hospital has "Complied with every request by the FTC, including dedicating unreasonable hours compiling 260,000 pages of documents."

 We will have more comments from Wernick in our 5:00 and 6:00 news.


Here is the News Release from the Attorney general's Office:

The Georgia Attorney General's Office filed a joint complaint yesterday with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in federal district court in Albany, Ga. seeking to delay Phoebe Putney Health System's proposed acquisition of Palmyra Park Hospital after the FTC decided by a 5-0 vote to request an injunction of the merger.

The Attorney General's Office and the FTC are seeking an order enjoining any transaction involving Phoebe Putney, the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County or Palmyra Park Hospital under which Phoebe Putney would acquire control of Palmyra Park Hospital's operations, until the conclusion of the FTC's administrative proceeding and any subsequent appeals.

The complaint alleges that the transaction as proposed would violate federal law by eliminating the vigorous competition that currently exists between Phoebe Putney and Palmyra Park Hospital in Albany and the surrounding six-county area.

The complaint also alleges that Phoebe Putney has used the Hospital Authority to cloak private, anti competitive activity in governmental guise in the hopes that it would exempt the acquisition from federal antitrust law.

The complaint is not a finding or ruling that the defendants have violated the law. A complaint is filed only when there is "reason to believe" that the law has or is being violated.

The allegations will be ruled upon after a formal hearing by a judge.

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