CHA News Article

House Judiciary Committee Amends Bill Affecting Mergers and Acquisitions
Creates standard federal review process

The House Judiciary Committee has revised the proposed Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules (SMARTER) Act of 2015, H.R. 2745, to amend the Clayton Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. The measure would assure a standard procedure for companies, including hospitals, that wish to merge or purchase another company. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforce the antitrust laws and determine which agency reviews the transaction. Under the current law, companies have different experiences when they interact with one agency versus the other. Hospitals have faced a more challenging experience when potential mergers are reviewed by the FTC rather than undergoing a review by DOJ.

The SMARTER Act, supported by the American Hospital Association and CHA, standardizes the review process and enables antitrust enforcement that is consistent, predictable and fair. Yesterday, the committee agreed there is no justification for the disparities in the process and standards of merger reviews, and the SMARTER Act will remove the existing disparities.

The vote in committee was largely along party lines, with only Representative Scott Peters (D-CA) voting with the Republican majority. California Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) voted yes, while his colleagues Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) voted no. Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) was not present.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights will hold a hearing on the bill Oct. 7.