Dave Mistich Published

Antitrust Agreement Sets Conditions for Merger of Huntington Hospitals

Cabell-Huntington Hospital

 Cabell-Huntington Hospital is one step closer to acquiring St. Mary’s Medical Center. An antitrust agreement filed by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office establishes a series of conditions for the acquisition.

At a news conference Friday, Morrisey said the agreement ensures the merger follows state and federal law while also providing access to affordable health care in the area through economic competition.

In November, the hospitals agreed to merge after the Catholic-affilliated Pallottine Missionary Sisters announced in August 2014 that they were dropping their 90-year sponsorship of St. Mary’s. 

Among other conditions in the agreement, Cabell-Huntington agrees that St. Mary’s will continue to operate as a free-standing, faith-based organization for seven years. Neither hospital would be able to increase service rates beyond the benchmarks established by the West Virginia Health Care Authority.

Additionally, if the combined operating margins of both hospitals exceed an average of 4 percent during any three year period, the hospitals’ rates will be reduced by the excess for the following three years.

While the Attorney General’s filing does not tie into the Federal Trade Commissions’ review of the acquisition, Morrisey said he hopes his office’s actions accelerates the FTC’s review of the case.

St. Mary’s has more than 2,600 employees and Cabell-Huntington has more than 2,500 employees, making them the first and second biggest employers in Cabell County.

Morrisey was joined for the announcement of the filing by Rep. Evan Jenkins, who said the filing will protect the interest of those in need of health care as well as those employed by the hospitals.