WV Supreme Court will Decide Hospital Merger Case

Updated 11 weeks ago Edited by Tony Rutherford from Multiple Reports

Based on the Steel of W.Va. reply petition, the proposed merger of Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital will impact "the company, it's employees... not to mention other Huntington residents." 

The cooperative agreement has been accompanied by public relations that tout the advantages. However, Steel of WV contends that health care costs will rise. 

In their brief , they explain " as a self-insured employer of roughly five hundred (500) steelworkers in Huntington, Petitioner was concerned that a merger between the only two acute care hospitals in Huntington would eliminate competition, increase its employees' health care costs, and lower the quality oft he healthcare for its employees and their families."

Arguments take place January 23 at 10 a.m. in Charleston. Links below and downloads are available. Once the oral arguments occur, the Court will at its pleasure issue its decision. (The final decision on St. Mary's decision to merge will be reviewed by the Pope.) 

The Federal Trade Commission originally filed a complaint objecting on antitrust matters. But, the two hospitals lobbied the Legislature to exempt the merger from state and federal antitrust (monopoly)  oversight: 

"After the Federal Trade Commission filed the Complaint to block the merger, Cabell Huntington successfully lobbied the Legislature in 2016 to pass legislation to exempt the proposed transaction from traditional State and federal antitrust oversight, including the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission. Far from blessing the proposed transaction, the Federal Trade Commission continued to raise concerns about the competitive harm, higher costs, and reduced quality that would accompany the merger.." 

The Healthcare Authority did not consider other options (such as interest from CAMC , which included acquisition of St. Mary's by another private or Catholic hospital. Cabell Huntington Hospital in its brief argued that acquisition of St. Mary's by another hopital would harm "Marshall University Huntington and the state would suffer," contending that any entity besides itself would not continue close cooperation with Marshall University and would remove "local control" from St. Mary's. 

"Here, of course, public records (albeit, public records that the Attorney General and the hospitals are fighting to conceal) demonstrate that other alternatives exist that were not considered. (App. 3378) (referencing the Circuit Court of Kanawha County's Order in the related FOIA proceeding, which noted the existence of "documents relating to bids submitted to St. Mary's Medical Center by other hospital systems and other interested buyers."); see also (App. 1332-1355) ("In May 2014, Cabell and [redacted] other hospital systems, including not-for-profit, for-profit, and Catholic systems, submitted bids to purchase St. Mary's.,,)."


The case has another component --- Steel of WV asked for access to Emails to and from the Attorney General's office related to the merger under the Freedom of Information Act. The AG objected, but was overruled. The AG contended that their own negotiations and agreements with CHH prevented anti-competitive concerns. 

A link to ALL the briefs is here:



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