Judge blocks proposed health care merger in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A judge has blocked a proposed merger between Sanford Health and Mid Dakota Clinic until a Federal Trade Commission hearing next month.

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says a U.S. District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday blocking the proposed merger.

Stenehjem and the FTC allege the deal would violate antitrust law by significantly lessening competition for health care services in the Bismarck-Mandan area.

In a statement, Stenehjem says competition in the marketplace "benefits consumers, including when that competition is for medical care."

Sanford and Mid Dakota called the decision disappointing, and said the government's case "rests on theories that are at odds with reality here in North Dakota."

The two providers agreed to merge earlier this year. Dakotas-based Sanford has 45 hospitals and nearly 300 clinics in nine states and three countries.

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