LCMC Health filed suit against federal antitrust regulators Wednesday after they sought to temporarily halt the health system’s plan to buy three HCA Healthcare hospitals in Louisiana.
In its lawsuit against the Federal Trade Commission and others, New Orleans-based LCMC said it is seeking a declaratory judgment determining the $150 million deal is not subject to federal regulatory review. The transaction, part of a partnership with Tulane University, was approved a few months ago with a Certificate of Public Advantage, making it immune from antitrust-related prosecution.
“The Certificate of Public Advantage process was rigorous and transparent, with active supervision to ensure consumer protection,” LCMC said in a statement. “We are on solid ground, and Louisiana knows what is best for our community.”
In a statement, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry argued the FTC never submitted a comment or attended a public hearing to share concerns about the COPA process. He promised to explore legal options to fight what he views as a federal overreach.
An FTC spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
As part of the proposed transaction, Tulane Medical Center, Tulane Lakeside Hospital and Lakeview Regional Medical Center would transition to nonprofit status under LCMC. Most services provided at Tulane Medical Center would shift to East Jefferson General Hospital and University Medical Center New Orleans in the next couple of years.
LCMC also agreed to invest $220 million over five years for new equipment and facilities at the three hospitals.
“The merger will enhance competition, lead to greater access to healthcare, result in higher-quality healthcare and will likely not result in undue increases to costs. The agreement guarantees ongoing oversight to ensure fair prices for consumers,” Landry said in the statement. “It is upsetting that the federal government would attempt to disrupt increased access to quality healthcare in a community with so many underserved minorities.”