Get ready for another chapter in the prolonged saga of whether Idaho's St. Luke's Health System violated antitrust laws when it acquired a physician group.
The Boise-centered health system has asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear its case before a full panel of judges.
Earlier this year, a three-judge panel of that court in Portland, Ore., ruled against St. Luke's, saying its acquisition of Saltzer Medical Group in Nampa, Idaho, was anti-competitive.
St. Luke's had argued the acquisition would help it improve care. But the plaintiffs—the Federal Trade Commission, the state of Idaho and competing systems—said it would lead to higher prices for health plans and consumers.
“The national movement toward integrated care depends in large part on affiliations like this one between a health system and an independent physician group,” according to a petition filed by St. Luke's and its physician group. “These transactions lead to significant advantages for patients—access by providers to an electronic health-record system and robust data analytics, enhanced provider collaboration and minimization of unnecessary care, and payment for care based on value rather than on a fee-for-service basis.”
St. Luke's argues in the petition that the court's decision conflicted with the opinions of other circuit courts in many respects, including how it treated St. Luke's assertion that the acquisition would improve care and how it analyzed the system's geographic market.
In its decision, the 9th Circuit panel ruled that it wasn't enough for St. Luke's to say the deal would improve care. The court said St. Luke's failed to show the deal wouldn't harm competition.