The Federal Trade Commission last week voted 5-0 to file an administrative complaint and authorize a federal lawsuit to block Memphis-based Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare from acquiring Saint Francis Hospital-Memphis and Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett from Tenet Health.

The complaint alleges that the proposed acquisition would reduce competition for inpatient general acute care services in the Memphis area, and seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the acquisition pending an administrative trial scheduled to begin next May.

In a joint statement, Sally Hurt-Deitch, CEO of Saint Francis Healthcare, and Michael Ugwueke, president and CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur, said, “Our joint commitment has always been to improve health care delivery for the residents of Memphis, Bartlett and the surrounding communities, including enhancing access to care, cutting-edge medical technology and the highest quality physicians and staff. Our two organizations promote a culture of compassion backed by strong core values, which together, we believe will have an even greater impact on care delivered in these communities. We are reviewing this recent action by the FTC and actively considering next steps. We are surprised by the FTC action given the strong support for the transaction by local stakeholders, including leading local health plans, physicians, employers, and community leaders and the evidence that the transaction will lead to lower prices, improved quality, and enhanced access to care for Memphis-area patients.”

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