Jus­tice says hos­pi­tal mis­used mar­ket clout

Modern Healthcare - - Late News -

In the first law­suit brought by the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment al­leg­ing an­ti­com­pet­i­tive uni­lat­eral con­duct in 11 years, a hos­pi­tal sys­tem in Wi­chita Falls, Texas, stands ac­cused of us­ing il­le­gal mo­nop­o­lis­tic tac­tics by in­hibit­ing in­sur­ers with which it has con­tracts from strik­ing con­tracts with the sys­tem’s com­peti­tors. Ac­cord­ing to a pro­posed set­tle­ment of the al­le­ga­tions re­leased by the Jus­tice Depart­ment, the 297-bed United Re­gional Health Care Sys­tem used its dom­i­nant mar­ket po­si­tion to force in­sur­ers to agree to pay sig­nif­i­cantly higher rates to United Re­gional if the pay­ers con­tracted with the sys­tem’s com­peti­tors. United Re­gional con­trols 90% of the gen­eral acute-care in the Wi­chita Falls mar­ket, 65% of the out­pa­tient sur­gi­cal ser­vices mar­ket, a Jus­tice Depart­ment news re­lease said. The pro­posed set­tle­ment, if ap­proved, would for seven years pro­hibit United Re­gional from us­ing agree­ments that in­hibit in­sur­ers from con­tract­ing with the sys­tem’s com­peti­tors, in­clud­ing con­di­tion­ing United Re­gional prices or dis­counts based on con­tracts with com­peti­tors. The pro­posed set­tle­ment stip­u­lates that the hos­pi­tal does not ad­mit li­a­bil­ity in set­tling the case. A writ­ten state­ment from the sys­tem says that United Re­gional dis­agrees with the gov­ern­ment’s al­le­ga­tions, but that mov­ing for­ward is in the best in­ter­ests of its pa­tients. The state­ment said the agree­ment would not af­fect the hos­pi­tal’s ne­go­ti­ated dis­counts, which will con­tinue to be hon­ored.

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