FTC Sues To Halt Merger Of ND Physician Groups

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a lawsuit in North Dakota federal court to block the merger of two Bismarck-area health care providers, claiming the deal would violate antitrust laws by reducing competition for an array of services in the area.  The FTC, along with the North Dakota attorney general, is seeking to block Sanford Health’s proposed acquisition of Mid Dakota Clinic on the grounds that the transaction would create a physician group with at least a 75 percent to 85 percent share of the markets for adult primary care physician services, pediatric services and obstetrics and gynecology services in the area. The merged group would also be the only provider of general surgery physician services in the region.

The two providers are each other’s main rivals in a four-county region with a population of about 125,000, the FTC said. If the deal is allowed to go through, other health care groups are unlikely to provide adequate competition by entering or expanding into the market, the agency said.  The FTC alleges the merger violates sections 5 and 7 of the Clayton Act.

Sanford Health, headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, operates more than 40 hospitals and 250 clinics in nine states, according to the FTC. In the Bismarck area, it operates a 217-bed hospital and employs 160 physicians and 100 other health care providers.  Mid Dakota, meanwhile, operates six clinics in Bismarck, as well as a couple of other facilities, and employs 61 physicians and 19 advanced practice practitioners in the region, the FTC said.

The case is FTC et al. v. Sanford Health et al., case number 1:17-cv-00133, in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota.

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