The Federal Trade Commission has cleared the way for Rochester General Health System and Unity Health System to merge.
The move, which follows last month’s state Department of Health approval, represents the last major regulatory milestone in the merger process, hospital officials said.
RGHS and Unity expect the merger to be completed in July.
“Clearance from the FTC is a powerful endorsement of the significant potential value the merger can bring to the community, supporting our vision to become a model regional, integrated health care system," said Mark Clement, president and CEO of RGHS. "The FTC decision also recognizes the overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic regional support the merger plans have received from our business, government and consumer stakeholders.”
RGHS and Unity in April 2013 announced plans to create a formal relationship that would result in a single, integrated health care delivery system. In September, the health systems’ boards voted to approve a merger.
FTC approval was needed to certify that a merger of RGHS and Unity, the region’s third-largest and fifth-largest employers respectively, would not stifle competition or violate federal antitrust provisions. At the time of the merger vote, RGHS had some 8,100 staffers and Unity had 5,300.
“The services we provide and the geographic areas where we serve our patients complement one another," said Warren Hern, president and CEO Unity. "As a single, integrated system, we will enhance both the clinical and operational strengths of our organization.”
Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services on Tuesday revised its outlook to negative, from stable, on bonds issued for Rochester General Hospital, citing the expected impact of the planned merger. In response, Clement said: “Today, the agency reaffirmed our A- rating, though it revised our outlook. The change made by S&P is a typical and expected shift based on the size of the upcoming (merger). … The anticipated S&P outlook shift in no way alters our sense of confidence and enthusiasm about the identified financial opportunities for the new system, or the anticipated benefits that the merger will bring to our community and patients throughout the region.”
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