FTC warns against COPA laws for hospital mergers

Hospital

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is urging state lawmakers to avoid the use of Certificates of Public Advantage (COPA) for hospital mergers, warning the certificates increase costs for patients, slow wage growth for healthcare workers, and lead to compliance difficulties.

The agency issued a policy paper Monday detailing its research started in 2017 into the impact of COPAs. The certificates, which have grown in popularity in recent years, are designed to shield hospital mergers from federal antitrust laws in favor of state oversight, limiting the FTC’s capability to challenge mergers it deems to harm competition.

“Experience and research demonstrate that COPA oversight is an inadequate substitute for competition among hospitals and a burden on the states that must conduct it,” the FTC stated. “… FTC staff invites state lawmakers to work collaboratively with competition policy experts to minimize the negative effects of further anticompetitive hospital consolidation and avoid using COPAs.”

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