Albany ALBANY, Ga. — Phoebe Putney Memorail Hospital officials said today that they and the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County filed briefs with the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday asking that a favorable U.S. district Court ruling be upheld.
In June, U.S. District Court Judge Louis Sands said the Hospital Authority's planned $195 million purchase of Palmyra Medical Center, a private hospital owned by Hospital Corporation of America, was not reviewable by the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC sought and got a temporary injuction to hold up the sale while the district court determined whether the federal agency had authority to review the pruchase. Sands ruled that the Hospital Authority, as an arm of state government, was immune from antitrust review.
The FTC, which wants the acquistion to come before an administrative judge, appealed Sands' decision to the 11th Circuit court.
In a statement released minutes ago by Phoebe, Tommy Chambless, general counsel for Phoebe, said the briefs put to rest notions that antitrust issues apply.
"The Authority's action is in the best interest of the citizens, and they are carrying out their governmental responsibilities as they have for these many decades," Chambless said. "The Authority, as a governmental entity, is not subject to FTC intervention."
Phoebe said the brief draws a parallel with other government entities and notes, "For a Georgia hospital authority, acquiring and leasing a hospital is as much an act of governing as is passing an ordinance for a Georgia city council. In both cases, political subdivisions are exercising some delegated component of the total governing powers of the State. "
Joel Wernick, Phoebe president and CEO, said the hospital's position remains unchanged and the FTC's objections do not apply to the Hospital Authority.
"Now more than ever the national healthcare landscape makes hospital consolidations and regional partnerships a necessary strategy to provide cost effective quality care to citizens," Wernick said. "This transaction is between a willing seller, HCA, and our community's Hospital Authority. We are looking forward to the court's ruling. We believe the U.S. Supreme Court has made it clear this transaction is beyond FTC meddling."