In this LawFlash, our antitrust and competition team details increased jurisdictional and filing fee thresholds under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act announced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on January 28. Healthcare entities contemplating mergers, acquisitions, or other transactions that might require premerger notification should review the new thresholds, which apply to transactions closing on or after February 27, 2020.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division issued a Business Review Letter (BRL) on January 15 in response to a proposal by the American Optometric Association (AOA) and AOAExcel GPO, LLC to expand their group purchasing arrangement. The AOA includes approximately 27,000 doctors of optometry (plus optometry staff and students) who compete with one another and nonmember optometrists and ophthalmologists to provide optometric services. AOA members also compete with other retail and online stores and vertically integrated providers who offer optometric products. In an effort to help their members better compete with these online and retail stores and vertically integrated manufacturers, the parties plan to expand their group purchasing arrangement to include optometric products for resale to customers. The proposed expansion would cover optometric products including eyeglass lenses and frames and contact lenses. The DOJ, in reviewing the details of the proposal, concluded that it presently does not intend to challenge the parties’ group purchasing arrangement in light of certain competitive safeguards within the structure of the expanded arrangement.
The FTC announced on October 21, 2019, that its Commissioners voted 5–0 in support of issuing orders requesting information from five health insurance companies and two health systems to study the effects of Certificate of Public Advantage laws (COPAs) on price, quality, access, and innovation in the healthcare sector. The FTC has demanded an extensive amount of data from the targeted entities by January 21, 2020. Also notable in the FTC’s announcement is that the agency will study the impact of hospital consolidation on employee wages.