On March 25, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) released its 2020 Annual Highlights report. The report’s statistics show that 46 percent of the Bureau of Competition’s enforcement actions related to the health care industry—that includes 25 percent relating to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries and 21 percent relating to “general” health care. Moreover, three of the FTC’s nine challenges to stop mergers concerned hospital transactions.

The report states, “Using enforcement as its primary tool, the Commission has worked to stop anticompetitive mergers and conduct that might diminish competition in health care markets. One key enforcement strategy is to block mergers that would allow providers to raise rates or decrease quality for vital services.” The report also mentions the FTC’s focus on the resulting “labor market effects arising from mergers,” noting that “[h]ealth care workers and their patients benefit from robust competition for nursing services and health care industry mergers can threaten such competition.” Thus, the report makes clear that the FTC has a strong interest in competition enforcement in all aspects of the health care industry.