WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court has dealt a setback to a deal between two private companies that left one as the owner of the only two hospitals in a southwestern Georgia city.
The justices ruled unanimously Tuesday that lower courts improperly dismissed complaints that the merger, aided by a public hospital authority, created a monopoly in hospital services in Albany, Ga.
The Federal Trade Commission tried to block the deal by arguing that it violated federal antitrust law.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in her opinion for the court that an exception in antitrust law for actions taken by a state or its agencies - in this case, the hospital authority - did not shield the transaction from federal antitrust concerns.
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Phoebe Putney Health System Issues Statement In Response to U.S. Supreme Court Ruling
The Supreme Court has today reversed a lower court decision allowing the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County, which owns Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, to acquire a competing hospital under the state-action doctrine.
In effect, the ruling says the State of Georgia has not clearly articulated its intent that hospital authorities are entitled to the same protection from antitrust enforcement as the state enjoys.
We are studying the decision closely. We are disappointed because the lower court rulings were clear in the applicability of state action immunity in accordance with long-standing precedent. This does not alter our resolve or the commitment Phoebe has to meeting the growing needs of this community and the region we serve.
We are continuing with our planning process to implement needed changes and to allocate resources properly to protect the safety and improve the health and wellness of our community.
Copyright 2013 WALB. All rights reserved.