No terms have been disclosed, but an antitrust lawsuit filed by a 19-bed physician-owned hospital against the largest providers and payers in its region has been settled, and an attorney in the lawsuit said the case could be used as a guidepost for similar suits by other hospitals facing similar circumstances.
Heartland Spine & Specialty Hospital, Overland Park, Kan., filed a suit April 26, 2005, alleging that local hospitals, health systems and managed-care organizations conspired to keep it from having access to Kansas City-area in-network managed-care contracts. Defendants included HCA Midwest, St. Lukes Health System, Carondelet Health System, Shawnee Mission Medical Center (part of the Adventist System), and North Kansas City Hospital, as well as Aetna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Cigna, Coventry Health Care of Kansas, Humana and UnitedHealthcare.
The defendants involved in the latest settlements included Aetna, Coventry Health Care, HCA Midwest, St. Lukes and Shawnee Mission. The rest had settled last year.
We are pleased that the litigation has been resolved, and were pleased with the result, said Heartlands attorney Patrick Stueve, with the Kansas City, Mo., law firm Stueve Siegel Hanson. There are no remaining defendants, so the case is closed. Stueve did note, however, that other physician-owned specialty hospitals finding themselves in similar circumstances can use this case as a guidepost in their own markets especially in light of how U.S. District Judge Monti Belot ruled last October that there were sufficient grounds for the case to proceed.