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High court weighs Georgia hospital merger

Associated Press Modified: November 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm •  Published: November 26, 2012

Justice Elena Kagan was among several members of the court who pressed Seth Waxman, the Washington lawyer representing the Georgia hospitals, about whether Georgia clearly endorsed deals that leave one company in control of all the hospital beds in a city or county.

Waxman said the hospital authority, with a duty under state law to serve the poor, had only two ways to find additional needed bed space.

"It could have tried to convince the state to spend three times as much money to get half the number of beds," by building a new facility, Waxman said. Or, "it could buy the other hospital."

A decision is expected by June.

The case is Federal Trade Commission v. Phoebe Putney Health System, 11-1160.