News

Court ruling doesn't end fight over Penn State Health/PinnacleHealth merger

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | May 11, 2016 6:00 AM
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(Harrisburg) -- Two major midstate health systems are celebrating a victory giving their proposed merger a path forward.

But more legal proceedings could be ahead before the Penn State Health/PinnacleHealth merger can take place.

U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III okayed the merger earlier this week.

But now, the case is set to a group of judges at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington D.C.

Put it this way: Penn State Health and PinnacleHealth have made the team.

But they haven't gotten the approval to play.

Professor Michael Hussey at Widener Law Commonwealth explains.

"Ballplayer gets to show up, practice, hang out in the clubhouse, eat sunflower seeds. So Judge Jones says yeah, come to the clubhouse, they can't keep you out. We'll know when the administrative trial starts next week whether this person is actually going to get to play in the game," says Hussey.

If the FTC judges aren't convinced, Hussey says regulators could negotiate with Penn State Health and PinnacleHealth to shut down specialty offices or shed doctor's practices.

"That certainly, that would be something that the hospitals would have to agree to, but that is something that the FTC could ask."

Hussey says Penn State Health and PinnacleHealth will again have to prove that consolidating into a $2.7 billion health system won't hurt consumers.

The hearing is slated to start next Tuesday.

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