On October 21, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it had issued orders to five health insurance companies and two health systems to provide information that will allow the agency to study the effects of certificates of public advantage (COPAs) on price, quality, access, and innovation of healthcare services. The ultimate goal of the study is to enhance the FTC’s knowledge of COPAs in order to inform the agency’s advocacy and enforcement efforts, and to serve as a resource for states considering COPAs.

A COPA is a written certificate typically issued by a state department of health under state law and regulations that seek to displace federal (and sometimes state) antitrust laws, and thereby provide immunity from antitrust law to certain healthcare-provider mergers, acquisitions, and other affiliations. Under the “state action doctrine,” states may shield certain transaction and conduct from federal antitrust law if the state (1) has affirmatively expressed and clearly articulated an intent to displace federal antitrust law and replace it with state regulation, and (2) actively supervises the transaction or collaboration.

Concerned that federal antitrust law and FTC enforcement against healthcare mergers has been too stringent and prevents procompetitive transactions, several states have passed COPA (or “cooperative agreement”) laws to permit healthcare providers to enter into transactions that might otherwise be blocked by the FTC. Proponents of COPAs believe that they allow healthcare providers to enter into transactions that eliminate costly duplicative services, achieve clinical efficiencies, facilitate more integrated care, and enable other community health benefits.
Continue Reading

Featured Industry: Health Care
Spotlight on Best Practices, Litigation, Antitrust, and Tax for Health Care Companies

Crowell & Moring LLP is pleased to release its “2016 Litigation & Regulatory Forecasts: What Corporate Counsel Need to Know for the Coming Year.” The reports examine the trends and developments that will impact health care companies and other corporations in the coming year—from the last year of the Obama administration to how corporate litigation strategy is transforming from the inside out. This year will bring remarkable change for companies, as market disruptions and the speed of innovation transform industries like never before, and the litigation and regulatory environments in which they operate are keeping pace.


Continue Reading

Does a professional licensing board have the ability to discipline licensees without antitrust trouble?  Can a state medical board require patients to see a doctor in person before being treated remotely?  And can a municipal taxicab commission require private transportation companies to conduct background checks?

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling in N.C. State Bd. of Dental Exam’rs v. FTC, 135 S. Ct. 1101 (2015), these are just some of the questions that state regulatory boards may have to answer in court – at least if they do not heed the Federal Trade Commission staff’s (“FTC Staff”) recently published guidance on how state boards can protect themselves from antitrust problems.

In Dental Examiners, the Supreme Court held that state regulatory boards are not necessarily exempt from liability under federal antitrust laws merely due to their status as state entities – at least if the board is “controlled by market participants.”  These state regulatory boards are, instead, only exempt from federal antitrust laws if the board’s anticompetitive conduct is clearly articulated in state policy and “actively supervised” by the state.  The new guidance addresses only this second, “actively supervised,” prong of the “state action” doctrine, which was the focus of the Dental Examiners decision.


Continue Reading

On February 17, 2015, the largest health care provider in Massachusetts, the non-profit Partners Healthcare System, Inc. (Partners), dropped its bid to acquire South Shore Hospital based in South Weymouth, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts dropped its antitrust suit that had challenged the acquisition.[1] Whether state or federal regulators will permit Partners’s proposed acquisition of Hallmark Health Corp. (Hallmark)’s two acute care hospital remains to be seen.

The decision by Partners comes a month after a Judge rejected a consent judgment that Partners and former Attorney General of Massachusetts Martha Coakley proposed regarding Partners’s agreement to acquire three acute care hospitals in the greater Boston area.[2] Less than a year ago, on June 24, 2014, the Attorney General of Massachusetts had simultaneously filed a complaint and a proposed consent judgment with Partners regarding Partners’s acquisition of South Shore and two hospitals operated by Hallmark.


Continue Reading

This year Crowell & Moring’s Healthcare Ounce of Prevention Seminar, (HOOPS), will focus on important legal and regulatory developments and their impact on the healthcare industry. Join us on October 27th and October 28th in Washington, DC as our healthcare attorneys and outside speakers share their perspectives on the latest developments in areas of interest

On March 20-21, 2014, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held a public workshop, “Examining Health Care Competition,” to discuss trends and developments in the health care industry that may affect competition. Specifically, the workshop used five panels of industry participants and experts to study professional regulation of health care providers, innovations in health care delivery,