St. Al's files antitrust lawsuit against St. Luke's
St. Al's files injunction against St. Luke's Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
The two largest medical entities in the Treasure Valley are headed to court.
Saint Lukes' purchase of Saltzer Medical Group in Nampa and whether it would create a monopoly of primary care doctors in Nampa. Saint Alphonsus feels it had no choice but file an injunction against Saint Luke's in U-S District Court.
"We were compelled to do this because it is about protection of the patient's choice," said Saint Alphonsus representative Elizabeth Duncan. "This about protecting the Nampa community about making sure the people of Nampa don't have to leave Nampa to get their health care."
Saint Alphonsus said the purchase would violate anti-trust laws by putting virtually all Nampa primary care physicians under Saint Luke's, a charge the attorney general is looking into and Saint Luke's denies.
"They say after the aquisition, we'd have 68 percent of the providers and we've done our own calculations and determined that 28 percent is more like it," Saint Luke's representative Ken Dey said. "That's a huge discrepancy between what they say and our data."
Economists say if the numbers from Saint Alphonsus are correct it could lead to higher prices for consumers. But that's a big if. And the incorporation of Saltzer into either hospital is seen by some as a real concern because it reduces competition.
"Even two companies can be a dangerous situation for the consumer and anti trust laws if you have only two suppliers of services, they pretty quickly figure out they can raise prices so long as the other follows along quickly, they'll behave like a monopoly that has market power," said Concordia Law University Professor Greg Sergienko.
Saint Luke's hopes to sign a deal with Saltzer by the end of the year. Saint Alphonsus hopes to have a judge uphold their injunction far before that.
The Attorney General's office has repeatedly asked Saint Luke's to hold off on the merger with Saltzer until it can complete it's anti-trust investigation, but Saint Luke's says it will continue to move forward.