FTC upholds subpoenas filed against hospitals Phoebe/Palmyra merger (updated)

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Federal Trade Commission has posted documents relating to Phoebe Putney Health System's purchase of Palmyra Medical Center that show civil investigation actions have been taken, including the issuance of subpoenas against both hospitals.

On the FTC website is a letter from the commission filed on March 10 denying a request to quash a subpoena filed in relation to the buyout.

Click here to read the letter

Subpoenas were issued as part of an ongoing preliminary antitrust investigation, the letter states.

According to the letter, Phoebe and HCA -- Palmyra's parent company -- sought to quash the subpoenas which the letter states were for information that the FTC requested voluntarily from the hospitals in December and in February.

The hospitals had sought to quash the subpoenas claiming they had been given insufficient time to provide the voluminous amount of documents requested, the letter states. The commission did, however, allow both hospitals until March 15 to comply with the subpoenas.

Jackie Ryan, assistant vice president for Phoebe, said the acquisition is moving forward despite the decision.

"The FTC is among many regulators who have the right to seek information about the acquisition of Palmyra Medical Center. The FTC has requested a great deal of information in a short time frame that was unreasonable. Both HCA and Phoebe asked for additional time and it was denied. Nonetheless, we have been cooperating with the requests and will continue to do so. We anticipate supplying the requested information in a timely manner," she said in a statement to The Herald.

"We are proceeding with the transaction and will continue to work with all regulators, including the FTC, as we move toward completing the acquisition."

Mitchell Katz, a spokesperson for the FTC, could not comment on whether Phoebe or Palmyra had met the March 15 deadline, saying only that the investigation into the merger was a "non-public investigation."

On Dec. 21, the Hospital Authority of Dougherty County agreed to an asset purchase agreement for purchase of Palmyra and several other adjacent properties for $195 million.

In its motion to quash, Phoebe's lawyers state on Dec. 29, the FTC contacted hospital officials to notify them that it had opened a non-public preliminary investigation into the merger and requested documents relating to that merger.