Government claims St. Luke's is violating anti-trust laws

Credit: Mike di Donato/ KTVB

Government claims St. Luke's is violating anti-trust laws

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by Jamie Grey

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBJamieGrey

KTVB.COM

Posted on March 12, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 12 at 12:00 AM

BOISE -- Two government agencies say a deal St. Luke's made last year is illegal and today filed a federal lawsuit.

The Federal Trade Commission and Idaho Attorney General are suing the health system saying its acquisition of Saltzer Medical Group in Nampa violates anti-trust laws.

These are very similar to claims made last year by Saint Alphonsus when it filed an anti-trust lawsuit against St. Luke's, trying to block the acquisition.

A judge allowed St. Luke's to go ahead with the purchase of Saltzer in December but will still hear the Saint Alphonsus complaint this summer.

After a more than yearlong investigation, the FTC and state AG are asking to consolidate cases with Saint Alphonsus in federal court.

All groups are saying St. Luke's and Saltzer being together puts the majority of primary care doctors in Nampa under one health system and lessens competition.

"The complaint alleges that the acquisition results in nearly a 60 percent market share, and what we allege is that will lead to higher prices and is the sort of acquisition of market power that the laws don't allow for," said Deputy Attorney General Brett DeLange.

"They are responding to complaints. The complaints were generated by folks that do not want us to be successful in doing this. They are very pleased with the status quo," said Dr. David Pate, St. Luke's Health System President and CEO.

Right now, St. Luke's owns Saltzer and patient care is combined.

In the lawsuit, the FTC and AG are asking the court to completely undo the deal.

The lawsuit was filed in court Tuesday under seal, which means we haven't been able to review it yet.

The Attorney General's Office is expecting it will be made public within the week.

A spokeswoman for Saint Alphonsus responded to our questions about this new government lawsuit by simply saying they are pleased with the action.

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