Novant’s proposed buy of CHS hospitals ‘irreversibly’ harms competitors, FTC says

Dive Transient:

  • The Federal Commerce Fee says Novant Health’s proposed buy of two Group Health Techniques hospitals would “irreversibly consolidate” the hospital market within the northern suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina, stifling competitors and driving up costs.
  • The proposed $320 million transaction would add Lake Norman Regional and Davis Regional Medical Heart to Novant’s portfolio. The antitrust company sued to dam the deal in January. 
  • In a court docket memo filed publicly Monday, the FTC sought a preliminary injunction to bar the sale from persevering with. The company alleged the deal would grant Novant an “eye-popping” 64% share of the market and was thus “presumptively illegal.” The Supreme Courtroom beforehand held mergers that resulted in a single entity controlling 30% of the market, in line with the submitting.

Dive Perception:

Novant Health is likely one of the largest Health methods within the southeastern U.S., with 19 medical facilities and over 850 outpatient places throughout the Carolinas. Six of its hospitals are within the larger Charlotte market, in line with the court docket paperwork. 

Its whole income was $7.6 billion in 2022, in line with paperwork filed by the FTC.

The nonprofit Health system has grown via a collection of mergers, in line with the court docket paperwork filed Monday. Final month the Health system closed its most up-to-date deal to buy three South Carolina hospitals from Tenet Healthcare for about $2.4 billion.

Novant now seeks to buy Davis Regional and Lake Norman Regional —  the latter of which sits simply 12 miles down the street from Novant’s Huntersville facility. Novant and CHS executives take into account the Lake Norman and Huntersville hospitals to be “shut rivals,” in line with the preliminary injunction. 

The proposed deal would “instantly wipe out this competitors, decreasing defendants’ incentives to spend money on high quality care and leaving fewer choices for sufferers,” warned the FTC. 

The antitrust company argued the deal may additionally improve Novant’s leverage over insurers, permitting the system to barter larger charges. In flip, particular person Health plan members may expertise larger premiums and out-of-pocket prices on account of the deal. The FTC estimated the proposed transaction would improve shopper costs by roughly 18% at Lake Norman Regional and 4% at Novant Huntersville.

In a press release to Healthcare Dive final month, a Novant spokesperson stated the Health system deliberate to defend the deal and “pursue accessible authorized responses to the FTC’s flawed place.”

Novant has pointed to Atrium Health’s deliberate 2025 opening of a 30-bed hospital in Cornelius, North Carolina, as proof that competitors will stay within the area after the deal. Nevertheless, the FTC slammed that assertion, stating, “defendants can not come near demonstrating new hospital entry or enlargement within the related geographic market would offset the overwhelming proof of this deal’s anticompetitive results.”

The company added that Novant’s purported high quality enhancements on the hospitals amounted to unspecific “hand-waved aspirations,” that might be achieved and not using a merger.

An evidentiary listening to within the case is slated for April 29.

Hospital mergers and acquisition exercise elevated in 2023,  with a mean deal dimension — measured by the dimensions of the smaller social gathering — of $591 million, in line with a January report from Kaufman Corridor. 

Regulator scrutiny of offers rose as properly. 

In December, the Division of Justice and the FTC issued the primary significant replace to merger steering in additional than a decade to present regulators extra energy to evaluation vertical and cross-market offers, in addition to non-public fairness “roll-ups” of a number of corporations.

John Muir Health’s proposed $142.5 million buy of Tenet Healthcare’s San Ramon Regional Medical Heart fell aside in December after the FTC sued to dam the transaction, citing antitrust issues.

Consultants predict that extra Health system tie-ups will face FTC evaluation and potential litigation this yr.

Nevertheless, Peter Blau, managing companion of healthcare companies and options at DHR World, stated Health methods are unlikely to be dissuaded from pursuing mergers and acquisitions.

“They’re having problem recruiting workers, each scientific and nonclinical executives. They’re experiencing reimbursement challenges,” Blau stated. “So for lots of those amenities, IT’s a really difficult time. IT’s very engaging for them to exit and discover companions that may enable them to live on and serve the group.”

He known as regulators’ renewed efforts to manage such offers a catch-up effort, akin to attempting to cease a “ball that’s already rolling downhill.”


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