FTC Continues Phoebe merger challenge

Published: Feb. 27, 2012 at 9:37 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2012 at 6:57 PM EST
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Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick
Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick

The Federal Trade Commission's possible appeal of the Phoebe/Palmyra sale is being called a waste of taxpayer money, at least by the liaison between the county commission and the hospital authority.

The FTC isn't giving up its opposition to the sale. The U.S. Solicitor General asked that the FTC get more time to decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court. Right now, the deadline is March 8th.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital is still working on the lease agreement with the Hospital Authority to manage this property, Phoebe North, it won't be finished until August, but today hospital officials said their newest bump in the road won't stop them from moving forward.

Hospital Authority Board Member and Dougherty County Commissioner John Hayes let the rest of the commission in on the latest actions of the FTC. That agency wants more time to ask the high court to review the case.

"It's certainly disappointing that we may have to wage this battle all over again," he said.

He raised concerns of what this may be costing taxpayer. "The cost this places on the general public to bear. The long battle over this all over again just ultimately cost the taxpayers money."

Phoebe officials have been reviewing the indications they got from the Solicitor General since Friday. "There are still a few if's associated with this," said Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick.

Including whether the Supreme Court will even consider reviewing this case, considering it's already been reviewed by several courts.

"This has had multiple reviews by federal courts and is built upon long standing precedent about the ability for local communities to make decisions on issues of this type and quite frankly we're just confused at why the federal government is continuing to pursue this matter," Wernick said.

Phoebe leaders say it doesn't make sense to try to undo a merger that's already gone through.

16:15:20 Tommy It's a pretty rare birds, again it doesn't make any sense, it's kind of like the eggs been scrambled at this point.

Which is why Phoebe officials say they'll continue to move forward with their plans for the Phoebe North Campus and respond to the FTC request of the Supreme Court with strong objections if it happens.>

In Phoebe's briefs they say they'll point out to the FTC this merger has already occurred, months ago. The say HCA's only involvement now is that they remain a party in the lawsuit.

Hospital Authority members maintain they acted in the best interest of the citizens of the area.

The FTC says the merger creates a health care monopoly and will result in higher health care costs.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.