Despite decades of federal and state regulatory efforts to encourage more efficient utilization of hospital resources, recent federal antitrust enforcement actions assert that nonprofit hospital mergers are detrimental to consumers. This policy, however, is derived from misguided attempts to apply the economic assumptions of for-profit industries to the nonprofit hospital sector and to extend statutes enacted to restrain national economic concentration to local nonprofit enterprises. This paper concludes that a rational antitrust enforcement policy that recognizes the unique characteristics of hospital markets can be described within the confines of existing antitrust statutes.

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