New Vertical Merger Guidelines Disappoint Antitrust Experts

Many healthcare antitrust experts are disappointed that the federal government’s new proposed guidelines on vertical mergers give little detail on how the government will analyze deals between firms at different levels in the supply chain, such as hospitals and physician groups. While the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Justice Department highlighted potential competition risks from vertical mergers in the long-anticipated guidelines, the first update since 1984, some elected officials and antitrust attorneys say the release still doesn’t give enough information to step up oversight of physician practice acquisitions by hospitals, insurers and private-equity firms. “The guidelines are short and don’t say much,” said Douglas Ross, a veteran antitrust attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine in Seattle. “They don’t really do much new, and they don’t refer at all to healthcare or use any healthcare-related examples.”

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