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Phoebe, FTC go to high court Monday

This is a file photo of Phoebe North, formerly Palmyra Medical Center. The Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County's purchase of the former private competitor will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court at 10 a.m. Nov. 26, 2012. The Federal Trade Commission is appealing a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the purchase is not subject to the federal agency's review.

This is a file photo of Phoebe North, formerly Palmyra Medical Center. The Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County's purchase of the former private competitor will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court at 10 a.m. Nov. 26, 2012. The Federal Trade Commission is appealing a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that the purchase is not subject to the federal agency's review.

WASHINGTON -- Arguments from both sides in the Federal Trade Commission's appeal of the purchase of Palmyra Medical Center by the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County are set to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court Monday.

The case of FTC v. Phoebe Putney Health System is one of two on the court's argument calendar for Monday. At question will be whether the Georgia Legislature, by vesting a local government entity with general corporate powers to acquire and lease out hospitals and other property, has clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed a state policy to displace competition in the market for hospital services.

Under the State Action Doctrine, federal antitrust laws do not apply to anti-competitive conduct of certain subordinate public entities created by a state if the conduct is authorized as part of a "state policy to displace competition" that is "clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed" in state law.

Another question being presented, according to court documents, is whether such a state policy, even if clearly articulated, would be sufficient to validate the conduct in this matter. The FTC is arguing that the government entity associated with the acquisition -- the Hospital Authority -- neither actively participated in negotiating the terms of the purchase nor has practical means of overseeing the hospital's operation. The Hospital Authority and Phoebe officials have stated that acquiring Palmyra has been a longstanding goal of the authority.

On June 25, it was announced that the court would hear the case after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling late last year that had been handed down by U.S. District Judge Louis Sands, who issued an opinion stating that the acquisition of Palmyra, now Phoebe North, was exempt from federal oversight.

A number of amicus briefs have been filed in support of both sides. The American Antitrust Institute, groups of economics professors and several states, Drs. Joseph Stubbs and Corleen Thompson and the National Federation of Independent Business have been among those who have thrown their support behind the FTC.

Meanwhile, the American Hospital Association and Georgia Hospital Association, the Georgia Alliance of Community Hospitals and the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems as well as Lee Memorial Health System in Florida have filed amicus briefs in support of the Hospital Authority and Phoebe Putney Health System.

A transcript of the arguments is expected to be available on the Supreme Court's website sometime Monday, with an audio recording to follow on Friday.

Monday's arguments will start at 10 a.m.

Comments

Trustbuster 1 year, 8 months ago

I will be there in spirit with the lawyers for the FTC. I watched the History Channel's show "The Men Who Built America" and learned that automotive innovator Henry Ford encountered the same obstacle with automobile cartel. The cartel rejected Ford's ideas of a lower priced car for the common man. He sued them in federal court claiming the cartel restricted innovation and competition. The jury sided with Ford. All the rest is history. I view Phoebe and the former automobile as the same paradigm. I hope SCOTUS will side with the plaintiffs and allow competition to take place.

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chinaberry25 1 year, 8 months ago

It is a done deal, and this is not the ethical times of Henry Ford. Times have changed to cut throat lawyers and the deepest pockets. Phoebe would be better off spending their money to help clean up this mess that Albany has evolved to. Sure you can be a king in a castle as Phoebe thinks they are, but all you have to bring in money are indigents. The payers have moved away. Maybe this is what they want. But with Obamacare looming, they had better get their ducks in a row and I am implying this town. Not much left and the big money is dying out every day or leaving for greener pastures.

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Trustbuster 1 year, 8 months ago

I don't think Phoebe could clean up Albany. It is the demographics like other urban areas.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 8 months ago

It will be an interesting read but since Phoebe has already devoured and digested Palmyra it has little ramifications practically for ABY.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 8 months ago

I wonder who's representing Phoebe before the court.

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