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FTC asks for extension in Palmyra acquisition decision

FTC asks U.S. Middle District Judge Louis Sands for a 60-day extension for filing documents necessary for dismissing an order for preliminary injunction in Palmyra merger.

The Federal Trade Commission this morning asked U.S. Middle District Judge Louis Sands for a 60-day extension for filing documents necessary for dismissing an order for preliminary injunction against the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County and Phoebe Putney Health System in regard to the authority’s acquisition of the former Palmyra Medical Center, now known as Phoebe North. (File photo)

The Federal Trade Commission this morning asked U.S. Middle District Judge Louis Sands for a 60-day extension for filing documents necessary for dismissing an order for preliminary injunction against the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County and Phoebe Putney Health System in regard to the authority’s acquisition of the former Palmyra Medical Center, now known as Phoebe North. (File photo)

ALBANY — The Federal Trade Commission on Monday asked federal Judge Louis Sands for a 60-day extension for filing documents necessary for dismissing an order for preliminary injunction against the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County and Phoebe Putney Health System in regard to the authority’s acquisition of the former Palmyra Medical Center.

In August, the FTC agreed to have the order from federal court in U.S. Middle District of Georgia dismissed after arriving at a proposed agreement with the authority and Phoebe. That proposal, however, has not been finalized by a vote of the FTC.

The proposal would have allowed the authority to retain possession of Palmyra (now Phoebe North) and lease it to Phoebe for management, while restricting Phoebe from objecting to DCH about any CON requests for a new acute care hospital in the six-counties comprising Metro Albany and Mitchell County for five years.

Phoebe, under the proposal, also would for 10 years not acquire without prior notification to the FTC any general acute case hospital, inpatient or outpatient clinic, or physician group of five doctors or more in the six counties. Phoebe and the authority would stipulate the acquisition of Phoebe North might lessen competition within the market and Phoebe would provide the FTC with annual reports of its compliance for 10 years.

In Monday’s motion, the FTC explained it was seeking the extension “because the Commission is still considering whether to make final the accepted consent agreement that settles the underlying administrative proceedings, and the consideration of this settlement may be informed by the DCH’s (Department of Community Health) response to to NAMC’s (North Albany Medical Center) request.”

On March 12, NAMC filed a Letter of Determination with the DCH asking for confirmation of whether Georgia’s Certificate of Need (CON) law would prevent the sale of Palmyra should the FTC order the authority to sell the property.

Monday’s extension request, which Sands had not yet ruled upon, would give the FTC until June 13 or 30 days from the date the DCH acts upon the request from NAMC, whichever date is earlier. The FTC said in its filing Monday that counsel for the Phoebe and the authority did not oppose its motion for the extension.