Justice Department files complaint to block Geisinger/Evan agreement

WASHINGTON – The US government is going to court to stop Geisinger’s 30% acquisition of Evangelical Community Hospital in Lewisburg.

The two hospitals hoped to merge several operations and give Geisinger 30% ownership of Evangelical. Among the returns, Geisinger would spend $100 million on investments in Evangelical.

The federal suit says the specifics of the acquisition would substantially lessen competition and unreasonably restrain trade in the local healthcare market.  The suit notes that the joint deal came after the two hospitals realized a full merger or acquisition would violate antitrust laws.

Additionally the US Justice Department said the acquisition isn’t necessary to achieve the hoped for benefits from joint cooperation or agreement. The department says the agreement would reduce competition, lead to higher prices, lower quality and reduce access of healthcare options.

Several years ago, Evan said while they were remaining independent, they planned to partner more closely with Geisinger, accept Geisinger Health Plan, and would get on the same electronic records system.  They said they would spend at least $265 million in joint investments.

Both Geisinger and Evangelical issued statements expressing disappointment and said they would work on the issues raised in the suit.

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