The Federal Trade Commission yesterday finalized a consent agreement with Phoebe Putney Health System, the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County and HCA to settle administrative litigation challenging the health system’s acquisition of a nearby hospital. The agreement does not require the health system to divest the hospital. It requires Phoebe Putney and the hospital authority to notify the FTC before acquiring any part of a hospital or a controlling interest in other health care providers in the Albany, GA area for the next 10 years, and prohibits their objecting to regulatory applications by potential new hospital providers in the area for up to five years. In February 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a lower court decision allowing the hospital authority to acquire the hospital under the state action doctrine, which provides an exemption from federal antitrust laws. In a friend-of-the-court brief, AHA and the Georgia Hospital Association had urged the Court to consider the impact of its ruling on state hospital authorities, which are tasked "with ensuring that their communities have needed health care and a proper safety net."