A federal appeals court denied St. Luke's Health System's request for a rehearing before a full panel of judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, raising the possibility that the system might take its widely watched antitrust fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“St. Luke's is very disappointed by the court's ruling,” the Boise, Idaho, system said in a statement. “We will take some time to determine next steps.”
The system argued that its acquisition of Saltzer Medical Group would improve area care, but a panel of 9th Circuit judges ruled that the deal was anti-competitive. The court said that it wasn't enough for St. Luke's to say the deal would improve care, and that St. Luke's failed to show that the deal would not hurt competition.
David Balto, an attorney who filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting St. Luke's on behalf of 17 law professors, said he thinks the case could receive serious consideration by the Supreme Court if St. Luke's petitions the high court for a hearing. But David Ettinger, an attorney for one of the plaintiffs, St. Alphonsus Health System, said the St. Luke's case presents no controversial legal principle for the Supreme Court to resolve.