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State Action Immunity

On February 19, 2013, the Supreme Court reversed a decision of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a manner that may have a significant impact on the reach of the federal antitrust laws with regard to local government bodies or “substate” governmental entities, including hospital authorities that are creatures of state law. The Court unanimously announced that the acquisition of a second hospital by a Georgia hospital authority would not be shielded from federal antitrust scrutiny by the state action immunity doctrine. While the Court’s decision may have far-reaching implications in the health care sector and beyond, it is important to note that the legislation creating Alabama health care authorities differs in important respects from Georgia’s hospital authority legislation.