Four Colorado ambulatory surgery centers have filed an antitrust lawsuit (PDF) in U.S. District Court in Denver against HCA, HCA-HealthOne, Centura Health, the Colorado Ambulatory Surgery Center Association and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado charging them with anti-competitive activities and restraint of trade agreements.
The ASC plaintiffs accuse the defendant hospital systems of abusing their market share power to convince Kaiser not to sign a contract that it had negotiated with one of the ASCs and attempting to further use their market power to influence other health insurance companies that do business in Colorado from putting the ASCs in their provider networks.
“HealthOne has made clear that it is antagonistic to the competition it is facing from the plaintiff facilities in a number of different ways,” the lawsuit stated.
Linda Kanamine, spokeswoman for HCA-HealthOne, a fully owned division of HCA, said her company disagreed with the plaintiffs' claims and is prepared to defend the case.
“We disagree entirely,” she said of the charges listed in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also charges that the defendant hospitals “have conspired with each other” to take control of the state ASC association.
The plaintiffs also say that the association hosted an Aug. 30, 2012 meeting at which Centura representatives allegedly provided “misinformation” about the plaintiff ASCs to other insurance companies.
“We didn't hold any secret meetings,” said Rob Schwartz, executive director of the Colorado Ambulatory Surgery Center Association.
In an e-mailed statement supplied by Centura spokesman Andrew Wineke, the system also denied any that it did anything wrong. “Centura Health is dedicated to improving healthcare value by focusing on outcome effectiveness, increasing service and convenience and controlling costs,” the e-mail stated. “While we are still reviewing these allegations, we are confident Centura Health has not violated any federal or state laws and that our hospitals and other facilities are operating in the best interests of the communities we serve.”
The four ASCs that filed the case are Kissing Camels Surgery Center, Colorado Springs; Cherry Creek Surgery Center and Hampden Surgery Center, both Denver; and Arapahoe Surgery Center, Englewood.