22 February 2013

Law in Plain English: FTC v. Phoebe Putney Health System, Inc.

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

FTC v. Phoebe Putney Health System, Inc.

A Georgia-authorized hospital authority (Phoebe Putney Health System, PPHS) managed one hospital and then purchased the only other hospital in the same county. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed an anti-trust complaint alleging that having one hospital authority owning both hospitals in the county would reduce competition. PPHS claimed that as a state-authorized entity, they were entitled to state-action immunity from the anti-trust liability. The question before the Court was whether PPHS was entitled to such immunity. The Supreme Court ruled that PPHS was not entitled to anti-trust immunity because Georgia did not make it affirmatively clear that its hospital authorities could take actions that would reduce competition. The practical impact of this decision is that states that wish to give state-action immunity to their subdivisions need to do so through a clearly articulated policy.
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