A federal judge has denied requests for an injunction to block the merger of Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and PinnacleHealth.
The injunction was sought by the Federal Trade Commission and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, which contend that the merger would reduce competition for health care in the Harrisburg region.
According to a joint news release from the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Pinnacle Health, federal and state authorities can either withdraw their original challenge of the merger, or appeal the judge’s decision and continue their opposition.
The FTC and attorney general filed injunction requests to block the merger in December, and the two sides argued during an April court hearing to determine whether the FTC had a right to block the merger.
“The patients of Hershey and Pinnacle stand to gain much from a combined entity that is capable of competing with a variety of other merged and already growing hospital systems in the region,” Judge John E. Jones wrote in his decision blocking the injunction Monday.
Jones, based in Harrisburg, took a shot at the FTC in his decision, saying the federal government has forced the hand of many businesses that must join together to survive rather than stay independent and die amid increased competition.
“We find it no small irony that the same federal government under which the FTC operates has created a climate that virtually compels institutions to seek alliances such as the (h)ospitals intend here,” he wrote. “Like the corner store, the community medical center is a charming but increasingly antiquated concept. It is better for the people they treat that such hospitals unite and survive rather than remain divided and wither.”
The two organizations said Monday they will continue to work toward the merger, which bring the systems under the banner of Penn State Health.
“We remain committed to our integration plans with a focus on the people and communities we serve, as well as the many dedicated people who deliver patient care, educate our next generation of care providers, and work to shape the future of medicine,” said A. Craig Hillemeier, CEO of Penn State Health.
Hillemeier would be the CEO of the merged company if the union goes through, while current PinnacleHealth CEO Michael Youngwould become the COO.