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After court decision, FTC hopes to prevail in Hershey-Pinnacle case

Today’s court ruling halting the merger between Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and PinnacleHealth System gives opponents of the deal hope that their side will prevail.

The injunction was sought by the Federal Trade Commission and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, both of whom have opposed the merger.

“The FTC is very pleased with today’s ruling from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that we have a likelihood of success on the merits. We look forward to proving our case,” said Debbie Feinstein, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition.

The ruling, handed down by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, prevents the two health systems from merging pending the outcome of their case in the FTC’s administrative court.

Health systems disappointed

Tuesday’s appellate court ruling overturns a decision by U.S. Middle District Court Judge John Jones in Harrisburg to allow the merger to move forward.

“We are disappointed by the court’s ruling,” a joint news release from the health systems stated. “Over the next several days the leadership and respective boards of both organizations will carefully review the decision and together we will determine our next course of action.”

The health systems declined to comment further.

The Third Circuit Court in Philadelphia originally heard arguments in the merger case in July, following a ruling by Jones in May that the health systems should be allowed to merge.

After Jones’ ruling, a federal judge blocked the health systems from consummating the deal until the case could be heard in the appeals court.

The case is important on a national level, because it could set precedent for merger cases going forward.

Lenay Ruhl

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