The House Judiciary Committee today voted 18-10 to approve the Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules (SMARTER) Act, AHA-supported legislation that would standardize the merger review process so that the Federal Trade Commission would be required to rely exclusively on the federal courts to determine the competitiveness of a merger or acquisition. “Hospitals, in particular, have been adversely impacted by the ability of the FTC to use its own internal administrative process to challenge a transaction,” AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said in a letter of support for the bill (H.R. 2745) in June. “Specifically, while the DOJ litigates its merger cases entirely in federal court before an impartial judge, the FTC has used the difference in authority between the two federal antitrust agencies to subject hospital transactions to what amounts to double jeopardy: commencing administrative litigation while at the same time pursuing a preliminary injunction in federal court…While AHA supports enforcement of the antitrust laws, relying exclusively on the federal courts to determine the competitiveness of a transaction ensures that hospitals, and others, receive a full hearing on the merits.”