A federal judge in Pittsburgh dismissed an antitrust lawsuit filed against the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center system by its smaller rival West Penn Allegheny Health System.
In a 73-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Schwab calls the lawsuit “long on innuendo” and concluded that none of the wide-ranging allegations, based on the facts presented, harmed competition or the quality and quantity of healthcare services in the market, even if West Penn Allegheny suffered.
The complaint filed in April alleged that 12-hospital UPMC engaged in a conspiracy with Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield to put five-hospital West Penn Allegheny out of business. UPMC allegedly agreed not to compete with Highmark with its subsidiary health plan in exchange for higher reimbursement rates and an agreement to lowball payments to West Penn Allegheny, ultimately granting each other a monopoly. Schwab wrote that the scenario advanced in the complaint “falls short on any plausible facts to support its bald allegations.”
“We respectfully disagree with the court's opinion, and we are reviewing the decision and considering our next steps,” West Penn Allegheny spokesman Dan Laurent said. UPMC spokesman Paul Wood said in an e-mail that “UPMC is pleased with the court's decision today to dismiss WPAHS's unfounded claims.”