FTC files lawsuit to stop proposed deal between Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Saint Francis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Federal Trade Commission has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare from acquiring Saint Francis.

Currently there are only four hospital systems which provide general acute care services in Memphis: Saint Francis, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Baptist Memorial Health Care and Regional One.

If approved, the proposed $350 million deal would give the combined Methodist/ St Francis system 60 percent of the metro market. That mean a loss of competition in Memphis leading to higher prices and other issues, the agency said.

“Competition between hospitals helps keep prices down and quality high, and that’s as true in Memphis as it is elsewhere,” said Daniel Francis, Deputy Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “It’s clear that patients in the Memphis area have benefitted from the competitive pressure that Saint Francis brings to bear on Methodist, through lower rates, more options for insurers and patients, and quality improvements. This transaction would take that competition away, and patients will pay the price.”

The FTC said it will be filing a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee seeking a restraining order and preliminary injunction pending the outcome of an administrative trial. That trial is set to begin in May 2021.