Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan today accused two large physician practices in Champaign County of conspiring to turn away new Medicaid patients as a way to force the state to improve its reimbursements, which Illinois doctors have long complained are low and slow in coming.
The Carle Clinic Association and Christie Clinic agreed to boycott new Medicaid patients to increase the effective Medicaid reimbursement rates and to accelerate reimbursement payments, according to an antitrust complaint Madigan filed in Champaign County Circuit Court.
Because of the Medicaid policies implemented by Carle and Christie in March 2003, Medicaid-eligible patientsmany children and low-income adultslost the benefits of competition between Carle and Christie, the complaint charges, adding that patients of the Frances Nelson Health Center, a federally qualified health center, suffered overcrowding, lower quality care and fewer choices as a result. The two groups together employ 90 percent of the physicians in the county, according to the complaint.
Kirk Moberg, Carle Clinics chief medical officer, said Madigans antitrust allegation is baseless.
Really the core of the complaint is that we colluded with the Christie Clinic to deprive Medicaid patients of service, and thats false, Moberg said in an interview. We did make a decision a few years ago to control the access of the Medicaid population into our system because the state reimbursement is inadequate. This decision we made independently.
Christie Clinic Chief Executive Officer Alan Gleghorn, in a written statement, likewise rebuffed the allegations. -- by Gregg Blesch