Washington Law Review

Article

Navigating Through the Fog of Vertical Merger LAW: A Guide to Counselling Hospital-Physician Consolidation under the Clayton Act

March 21, 2016 | 91 Wash. L. Rev. 199

Abstract: Lawyers assessing legality under the antitrust laws of hospital acquisitions of physician practices face a quandary. The case law is sparse, federal enforcement guidance outdated, and academic input conflicting. Applying these muddled standards in the rapidly-evolving health care sector only magnifies the uncertainty. While most transactions will be competitively neutral or beneficial, rapidly evolving market conditions causing integration between hospitals and physicians present opportunities for consolidations that may harm consumer interests. Indeed, given the highly concentrated structure of many hospital markets in the nation, preemptive acquisitions of physician practices may be a tempting strategy for some to undermine competition. This Article offers guidance by analyzing potential theories of competitive harm and addressing factual elements necessary to establish a violation of antitrust merger law.

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