Federal Trade Commission Investigation
With the merger and acquisition of NMHC, questions of antitrust have been raised. In the service lines of cardiology and oncology it has been found that ECRH controls 60% of the cardiology market and 52% of the oncology market. Chestnut Care in some markets has been strong in steering patient volumes to ERMC. Union leaders for the varying trades were instrumental in precipitating this investigation. At the time that this issue was raised, the President and Executive Branch of the federal government were very pro-labor, thus, their interest in pursuing this matter.
As to the projected disposition of this case, it is anticipated that a negative determination will be made due to the market share control in oncology and cardiology. This could force ECRH to divest their ownership in the Chestnut Care insurance venture. Another option might be that certain hospitals of NMHC be divested. It is not anticipated that both determinations would occur. This case has cost ECRH considerable money to stave off investigation of this allegation.
Predatory Collections and the Loss of Not-for-profit Tax Status for NMHC
NMHC negotiated that they would continue to act independently. The consortium leadership set policies that included predatory collections for the patients that would be served in the NMHC hospitals. In a recent evening news report, an investigative reporter interviewed an elderly patient that had her home taken from her to pay for her medical bills. This home had been in her family for over 100 years. This story prompted the state’s Attorney General’s Office to investigate the predatory collection policies of ECRH and NMHC.
The state has already taken an aggressive stance to investigate the status of not-for-profits not fulfilling requirements (e.g., charity care, research, and education). The state is in economic trouble and is seeking revenue from wherever they can find it. The outlook is dim regarding the anticipated final decision of the Attorney General’s Office. If NMHC is required to pay taxes, this would wipe out the bottom line for these hospitals and many of the needed services supplied to the indigent population by ECRH would be reduced or eliminated.
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