Agency studies care competition issues

Citing the role of hospital competition in maintaining high quality and cost-effective health care, the Federal Trade Commission has accepted a consent agreement involving the nationwide owner of a local hospital chain.

The FTC released a statement involving the agreement in which Community Health System, or CHS, would sell two southern U.S. hospitals it acquired in a recent merger with Health Management Associates, HMA. Those hospitals are located in Alabama and South Carolina.

CHS, a nationwide hospital system, also owns ValleyCare Health Systems of Ohio and is in the process of purchasing neighboring Sharon Regional Health System. ValleyCare includes Trumbull Memorial Hospital in Warren, Northside Medical Center in Youngstown, Hillside Rehabilitation Center in Howland and others.

In its statement, the FTC repeated decades-old concerns that hospital consolidations can limit competitive options. The FTC is planning a public workshop, “Examining U.S. Health Care Competition” later this month in Washington, D.C., to address regulation, health care advancements, assessment and pricing.