St. Luke's antitrust lawsuit hearing wraps up in federal court

St. Luke's antitrust lawsuit hearing wraps up in federal court

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by Stephanie Zepelin

Bio | Email | Follow: @ktvbstephanie

KTVB.COM

Posted on November 7, 2013 at 10:30 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 12 at 3:46 PM

BOISE -- Two of the largest health care providers, largest employers, and largest non-profits in the state of Idaho have faced off in federal court.

Now, a federal judge will consider both sides of the lawsuit and is set to issue a ruling.

About a year ago, Saint Alphonsus Health System, along with the Federal Trade Commission and the Idaho Attorney General, filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Saint Luke's Health System.

Saint Alphonsus, the FTC, and the attorney general say St. Luke's violated anti-trust laws after buying Saltzer Medical Group, giving them an unfair share of the market in Nampa.

Vice President and General Counsel for St. Luke's, Christine Neuhoff says the purchase is fair and good for folks in Nampa.

"I think that we did a good job of demonstrating that St. Luke's and Saltzer are working together to improve health care in Canyon County and across the Treasure Valley," said Neuhoff.

Further, representatives from St. Luke's say they don't believe that Nampa is even a market for medical services, as Saint Alphonsus defines it.

"People travel to and from Nampa for medical care now in the current circumstances," Neuhoff said. "About 40 percent of Nampa residents leave Nampa for primary care services, and about a third of the patients of Nampa doctors don't actually live in Nampa."

That's not the way Saint Alphonsus and the Attorney General's Office see it.

"That combination will result in collectively almost 80 percent of all the primary care doctors in Nampa, and that will have negative effects for the people of Nampa, for innovation, and service in Nampa," said Brett DeLange, from the Idaho Attorney General's Office.

If St. Luke's wins, they will start integrating Saltzer clinics in the St Luke's Health Care System, but if Saint Alphonsus wins, Saltzer Medical Group will be independent of St Luke's.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill now has to review the evidence and make a decision.

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