ALBANY, Ga. — The Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County and Phoebe Putney Health System learned Sunday that the Federal Trade Commission will indeed continue its challenge of the authority’s purchase of Palmyra Medical Center.
The Solicitor General on behalf of the FTC has asked for an extension of the deadline to seek the U.S. Supreme Court’s review of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which cleared the way for the transaction to close Dec. 15, a news release sent by Phoebe stated.
Reaching out to the Solicitor General’s office was the first step in attempting to get the high court to hear the case.
“We are stunned and disturbed by this most recent development,” said Ralph Rosenberg, authority chairman, in a news release. “The Authority has acted in the best interest of the citizens of this area and has exercised its right to make decisions concerning local health care for our community. The FTC is showing a total disregard for two federal court decisions that found in favor of the Authority’s purchase of Palmyra Medical Center.”
The FTC continues to waste taxpayers’ money and our community’s money to challenge an already decided case, which has been confirmed by appeal.”
Authority and Phoebe officials are saying that the FTC’s intent to seek review from the Supreme Court is baseless.
“There is no legal or factual information to support the FTC’s actions and no rationale to explain its apparent desire to centralize control of local healthcare resources,” said Phoebe CEO Joel Wernick.
Wernick and Rosenberg went on to say they will not alter plans for the consolidation of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Phoebe North, the name the Palmyra Medical Center facility has been going by since the transaction on it closed.
“We will not be distracted,” said Wernick. “The Authority’s purchase is well founded in fact and has been made in the best interest of the patients we serve. We have worked diligently in bringing these two facilities together over the past several months. The support from our employees throughout the organization and from people throughout our community has been uplifting.
“We are moving forward in creating an exceptional model of healthcare delivery.”
The FTC confirmed it was considering taking the case to the Supreme Court when the agency’s head, Jon Leibowitz, made some comments to the Huffington Post to that effect last week.
“If this hospital merger is allowed to go through, it’s going to give a blueprint for how to design the most anti-competitive outcome that will raise health care costs for every consumer in rural areas and small cities, and that will be a huge problem for all of us,” Leibowitz is quoted as telling the Post.
No further comment was made available from the FTC by 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon.