UPDATED: Federal Trade Commission investigating Phoebe-Palmyra buyout
Updated Thursday, March 17 at 1:30 p.m.
FOX 31 was first to report about an antitrust investigation into Phoebe's purchasing of Palmyra. Wednesday night, FOX 31 obtained documents including petitions from Phoebe Putney Health System and the Hospital Corporation of America, Inc. as well as a letter of denial from the Federal Trade Commission on the FTC website.
Phoebe released the following statement Thursday morning from Phoebe's Assistant Vice President Jackie Ryan: "The FTC is among many regulators who have the right to seek information about the Hospital Authority's acquisition of Palmyra Medical Center. The FTC has requested a great deal of information in a short time frame that was unreasonable. Both HCA and Phoebe asked for additional time in motions filed with the FTC, and the requests were denied. Nonetheless, we have been cooperating with the requests and will continue to do so. We anticipate supplying the requested information in a timely manner. We are proceeding with the transaction and will continue to work with all regulators, including the FTC, as we move toward completing the acquisition."
According to HCA's petition, there were over 130 requests made in connection with the Federal Trade Commission's investigation â" all which needed to be met within a two week time frame. They filed motions to extend the time frame and the FTC denied them.
FOX 31 called the Federal Trade Commission as well on Thursday morning. A Public Affairs Officer says they cannot comment on ongoing investigations.
FOX 31 will bring you more details as they're made available.
FOX 31 has obtained documents from the website of the Federal Trade Commission that explains why Phoebe has not closed the deal on their purchase of Palmyra. The documents say because of an antitrust investigation into the buyout, the date for closing is being pushed back.
The FTC website has documents from two motions that Phoebe Putney Health System and HCA, Inc. filed against a subpoena and civil investigative demand. The petitions say the FTC requested a large number of documents for the investigation in a short period of time.
"Complying with the FTC's broad and detailed CID ad Subpoena within a highly compressed two-week time frame is simply not achievable," the petition filed by HCA, Inc. says. "Indeed, the Compulsory Requests are broader and more burdensome than a typical Second Request, which generally takes parties from three to six months to complete."
The Commission at the FTC released a letter in response to the petition saying the requests made by PPHS and HCA in the petitions were denied.
"The Commission issued the subpoenas and CIDs on February 14, 2011, in connection with its antitrust investigation of the proposed acquisition of HCA's Palmyra Park Hospital by the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County (Georgia) and/or Phoebe Putney Health System," the letter says.
The letter, which is posted on the FTC website, says that Phoebe Putney Health Systems and HCA "shall comply with the Commission's subpoena and CID by March 15, 2011."
According to the petitions, in late December, the FTC informed parties involved with the buyout that it opened a preliminary investigation of Phoebe's purchasing of Palmyra.
"During multiple telephone conversations with Staff, PPHS (and other parties) stated the position that state action immunity applies to this transaction, negating the need for a full competitive analysis, an analysis that could cost PPHS hundreds of thousands of dollars and many thousands of person-hours of information compilation and review," the documents say.
It says that parties involved in the buyout agreed not to close before March 1 to give the FTC time to complete the review.
In early February, the document says Phoebe was informed by a letter from the FTC that the investigation changed from preliminary to full phase status. Those involved in the buyout agreed to delay closing the deal for another month, until March 31.
"As a part of the discussion with Staff, the parties also agreed to produce information that the Staff would designate as the critical or 'key' information required for Staff's competitive analysis of the proposed transaction," the petition says. It says the parties agreed to have the documents and information available by February 28.
According to the document, Phoebe Putney Health Services received a subpoena duces tecum and civil investigative demand.
"For all of the foregoing reasons, as well as those set forth in the accompanying Exhibits, PPHS respectfully requests that the Commission quash the subpoena and the CID. In the alternative, PPHS respectfully requests that the Commission modify the return dates of the subpoena and CID to provide a reasonable time for compliance and to limit the subpoena and the CID based on the objections set forth above," says the document in a section signed by the "Counsel For Petitioner."
FOX 31 contacted officials with Phoebe Putney; no one is able to comment at this time.
FOX 31 will bring you more details as this story develops.