Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. agreed to pay a $2.5-million civil penalty to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it didn’t move quickly enough to sell hospitals in Utah and Florida, the agency said. The penalty is the product of a 1995 settlement that resolved FTC antitrust concerns over Columbia’s $3.3-billion acquisition of Healthtrust Inc., the largest hospital combination ever. The FTC said the penalty is the second-largest ever for failure to divest on time. “It should send a strong message to industry that the FTC expects companies to abide by their obligations,” FTC Chairman Robert Pitofsky said. The settlement is separate from the federal criminal probe of Columbia’s billing practices. Nashville-based Columbia’s shares fell $1.31 to close at $28.75 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Columbia/HCA to Pay Penalty in FTC Case