Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Support for competition in the West

The decision by MA Attorney General Maura Healey to oppose the deal allowing expansion of Partners Healthcare System and promising to sue the corporation if it tried again just got a boost from the West.  As reported by Lisa Schencker in Modern Healthcare:

A federal appeals court affirmed on Tuesday that Idaho-based St. Luke's Health System violated state and federal antitrust laws when it acquired a medical group in 2012, delivering the Federal Trade Commission another victory in its first major case challenging a physician deal.  

St. Luke's had argued that the acquisition would help it improve care for the communities it serves. But the FTC, the Idaho attorney general and the health system's Boise-based competitors—St. Alphonsus Health System and Treasure Valley Hospital—said the merger would decrease competition, translating into higher prices for consumers.

The appeals court found that it wasn't enough for St. Luke's to say the acquisition would improve care. The court said St. Luke's also would have had to show that competition wouldn't suffer.

It's a decision that could have implications for other health systems across the country.

“Providers considering acquisitions can't take comfort in the fact that they have laudable goals, that they're trying to achieve efficiencies,” said David Ettinger, a lawyer for St. Alphonsus and a partner with the law firm Honigman in Detroit. “That alone is not sufficient to avoid antitrust concerns.”


Brad F said...

The gem is the last paragraph however (lest you think the literary alchemists have disappeared):

But Robert McCann, a partner with Drinker, Biddle & Reath in Washington, D.C., called the ruling disappointing because it suggests the courts are not prepared to say that value-based care delivery arrangements can benefit consumers.

“I think what the court is not understanding is those are just two sides of the same coin in the sense that we don't protect competition for its own sake; we protect competition because we believe that's in the best interest of consumers in markets that are driven by traditional competitive forces,” McCann said. “If consumers then benefit as a result of the merger in certain ways, that's something to be considered side-by-side with traditional market power to raise prices.”

Paul Levy said...

It was masterful.

Anonymous said...

Pity we couldn't get that here in my area with the way the monopoly acts.