A judge in Champaign County, Ill., dismissed an antitrust lawsuit filed this past June by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan alleging two physician groups conspired to turn away Medicaid patients in a bid to ply better reimbursement rates from the state.
According to Madigans lawsuit, the Carle Clinic Association in Urbana and the Christie Clinic in neighboring Champaign cooked up the scheme over the course of about two years and in January 2003 simultaneously adopted nearly identical policies shutting their doors to new Medicaid patients. But Judge Richard Klaus ruled that the complaint didnt adequately support the conclusion that the groups executives actually made an agreement and that the policies hurt competition in the market.
Were very pleased with the judges decision, because it was the right decision, Christie Clinic spokeswoman Karen Blatzer said.
The ruling, however, allows Madigan to address the problems identified in the complaint and refile it, and Benjamin Weinberg, chief of the attorney general's public-interest division, said they have the evidence to do so. Todays ruling is a procedural setback, but it does not end the case, and we will be filing an amended complaint within the next 30 days, Weinberg said.
Carle Clinic spokeswoman Jennifer Hendricks Kaufmann said the group understands the litigation isnt over but considers the ruling encouraging. -- by Gregg Blesch