A U.S. District Court judge in Kansas said there is sufficient evidence for 19-bed Heartland Spine & Specialty Hospital, Overland Park, to proceed in its antitrust lawsuit against some of the regions major healthcare providers, according to court documents unsealed last month. In April 2005, Heartland filed a lawsuit against five area hospitals or systemsHCA Midwest, St. Lukes Health System, Carondelet Health System, Shawnee Mission (Kansas) Medical Center (part of the Adventist Health System) and North Kansas City Hospitalas well as six managed-care organizationsAetna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Cigna Corp., Coventry Health Care of Kansas, Humana and UnitedHealthcare. The lawsuit alleges that they conspired to prevent Heartland from having access to essential in-network managed-care contracts in the Kansas City area. Heartland reached confidential settlements with 451-bed North Kansas City Hospital (Kansas City, Mo.), Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealthcare earlier this year, according to Patrick Stueve, an attorney for Heartland. The order from U.S. District Judge Monti Belot in Wichita unsealed last month denied the defendants requests to dismiss the case, meaning a jury will decide if the providers conspired to prevent Heartland from having access to the contracts. We are disappointed in the courts ruling, and we truly believe our practices are in the best interest of our patients, says Rob Dyer, vice president of marketing and public relations for HCA Midwest. A trial is scheduled for April 1, 2008, according to Stueve.
Judge says doc antitrust case can move forward
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