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Venable partner Lisa Jose Fales was quoted in The Bond Buyer on April 23, 2012 on the recent successful challenges of two hospital mergers by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Mergers and consolidation are becoming more common across the sector as smaller institutions continue to suffer financially and some believe it will help them handle the implementation of the federal healthcare overhaul.

Traditionally the FTC has kept a strict eye on hospital mergers, but according to Fales, its recent wins mark a shift as the FTC traditionally loses most of its challenges. “This is not a change from where the FTC has been in the past — it has always been focused on health care because it hits the consumers’ pocketbooks,” said Fales. “The difference is, they’re starting to win,” partly because of savvier litigation, added Fales. Speaking about one of the FTC challenges where a merger would have reduced the number of competing providers from three to two, Fales said, “That’s a pretty straightforward case for an antitrust.” Commenting on future trends with the FTC in this sector, Fales said, “You’re going to continue to see active agency enforcement in this area…This is a high priority for the FTC.”