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Huntington hospital merger parties to evaluate new state law

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The Federal Trade Commission and Cabell Huntington Hospital, Pallottine Health Services and St. Mary’s Medical Center Thursday jointly requested the administrative hearing regarding the proposed merger of the two Huntington hospitals be pushed back 30 days to evaluate whether a hearing is necessary in light of a new state law.

The legislation, signed into law Friday by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, would exempt Cabell Huntington’s planned acquisition of St. Mary’s Medical Center from state and federal antitrust laws if a cooperative agreement is approved by the West Virginia Health Care Authority and the state Attorney General.

The FTC filed a complaint against the proposed merger in November, stating it would create a monopoly that would lead to higher health care prices and lower quality by eliminating competition.

An administrative law hearing was scheduled for April 5 for Cabell to dispute those claims. In documents released by the FTC Tuesday, all parties involved believe it is best to remove the matter from adjudication to enable the FTC to evaluate the new law…

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