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Federal court delays PinnacleHealth, Hershey merger

The Federal Trade Commission and Office of the Attorney General appealed a federal judge’s ruling to deny an injunction request to Penn State Health and PinnacleHealth merger.
The Federal Trade Commission and Office of the Attorney General appealed a federal judge’s ruling to deny an injunction request to Penn State Health and PinnacleHealth merger. Photo provided

A federal court delayed plans to integrate PinnacleHealth and the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center into Penn State Health pending an appeal, according to a joint release by the health systems.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit granted the request by the Federal Trade Commission and state Office of Attorney General. It also approved an expedited appeal schedule requested by the health systems, moving up the timeline of the court’s ruling on the appeal to the summer.

A federal judge denied the FTC and OAG’s request for an injunction to prevent the merger in early May. The FTC and Attorney General Kathleen Kane continued the legal challenge, but the health systems plan to lay the groundwork for their integration under Penn State Health.

“Our health systems are disappointed by the court’s decision to grant a stay, but encouraged by its willingness to accept an expedited appeal schedule,” the health systems said. “Over the next several days the leadership and respective boards of both organizations will carefully review the decision and together determine the next steps in our legal process. We remain fully committed to finding innovative ways to best serve our patients and our broader community, and we are optimistic about a shared future that positions us to provide the highest quality and most cost-effective care possible.”

The OAG joined the FTC’s complaint for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to prevent the merger, arguing it would likely lead to increased health care costs and reduced quality of care for about 500,000 people.

Penn State Health has countered that complaint, arguing the merger would increase patient access to a wider range of services over a broader geographic base.

Shawn Annarelli: 814-235-3928, @Shawn_Annarelli

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