Jun 8, 2022 - News

FTC files lawsuit to stop merger between Steward and HCA Health Care

Illustration of a gavel hovering over a block with an image of a red cross.
Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

The Federal Trade Commission recently filed an administrative complaint and lawsuit to halt the proposed merger of two competing health care systems in Utah: HCA Healthcare and Steward Health Care.

Details: The lawsuit alleges a merger would lead to increased costs for patients and "less incentive to improve quality of care."

  • HCA, which operates eight hospitals in Utah, wants to obtain five hospitals operated by Steward.

What they're saying: "HCA Healthcare and Steward Health Care System help to keep costs down for consumers by competing vigorously with each other," Holly Vedova, FTC Bureau of Competition director, said in a statement.

  • "If these companies merge, this competition will be lost, and Steward will no longer be available to patients as a low-cost provider in this region."

The latest: U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell issued a temporary restraining order this week halting the merger until 10 days after a Utah court decides on the lawsuit, according to Bloomberg Law.

The other side: Representatives from HCA and Steward each expressed disapproval of the FTC's complaint.

  • "We are disappointed in the FTC’s decision," Sumerford Harlow, director of media relations for HCA told Axios via email. "We continue to believe that this combination would benefit patients, most importantly, as well as payers and providers while improving competition in Utah’s healthcare marketplace."
  • A spokesperson for Steward said the "FTC has misread the pro-competitive potential of this transaction and completely ignored the fact that the market is, in fact, dominated by two different major health systems."

Zoom out: Intermountain Healthcare eclipses both health care systems in its number and size of Utah hospitals.

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