Pediatric practices considering a merger or acquisition involving competitors need to be aware of when these transactions may gain the attention of antitrust enforcement officials.

Government enforcers frequently have acted against hospital mergers when they believed the merger would create a provider with the clout to exercise leverage over managed care and raise prices. Similar actions are being taken against some physician practice mergers, including a urology group merger in Pennsylvania and cardiology practice acquisitions in Washington.

Antitrust concerns will arise only in mergers or acquisitions involving competing practices. Thus, a merger between pediatric practices or an acquisition of a pediatric practice by a hospital or a multispecialty group already employing pediatricians could raise antitrust issues. In markets where family physicians significantly compete for pediatric patients, the same concerns can arise if a merger or acquisition would bring pediatricians and family physicians under one entity.

An antitrust investigation will be...

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