The Federal Trade Commission on Monday requested 60 days beyond a previous deadline to decide whether to sign off on its 2013 antitrust settlement with an Albany hospital system. Monday was the FTC’s deadline to finalize the agreement with Phoebe Putney Health System.
Georgia’s high-profile hospital antitrust saga may not be over after all. The Federal Trade Commission is asking a state agency whether a potential divestiture of the Albany hospital that Phoebe Putney acquired in 2011 would require regulatory approval. Last August, the FTC and Phoebe Putney Health System announced they were settling the agency’s long-running antitrust suit over the hospital acquisition. But that deal has not yet been finalized.
Georgia health care had more than its share of drama and surprises in 2013. Some of the big stories were linked to the Affordable Care Act. This far-reaching federal law, passed in early 2010, was still generating changes and attracting controversy as if it were brand new. But the ACA wasn’t the only hot topic in Georgia health. Issues ranged from drug scares to complex policy disputes and funding battles.
Two South Georgia health systems are reaching out across state borders for help in positioning themselves better in a tumultuous health care world. Phoebe Putney Health System, based in Albany, announced Tuesday that it had struck a partnership with an affiliate of a renowned Pennsylvania-based health system, Geisinger, to improve quality of care and reduce costs.
Phoebe Putney Health System said Thursday that it is cutting 127 jobs as part of an organizational restructuring. These reductions come on top of the 33 “leadership’’ positions eliminated earlier this month by Phoebe Putney, the dominant hospital system in southwest Georgia. The Albany-based system said the job reduction would lower operating costs by $10 million. Similar staffing cuts are occurring elsewhere in the state and nation.
The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Federal Trade Commission Tuesday in the fight over a hospital purchase in southwest Georgia. The court ruled unanimously that it violates antitrust laws for the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County to own both Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Palmyra Medical Center. The authority bought Palmyra in December 2011.
Federal regulators are continuing their challenge of the sale of a hospital in southwest Georgia. Phoebe Putney Health System in Albany purchased Palmyra Medical Center in December. But the Federal Trade Commission now wants the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the sale and asked Friday for an extension of the deadline to file its hearing request.
The U.S. Supreme Court is set to take up a Georgia case Tuesday that involves the question of whether government officials have absolute immunity from civil lawsuits. The high court is expected to hear an appeal from Charles Rehberg, who sent faxes criticizing the Phoebe Putney Health System.