5 cases targeting healthcare monopolies

Recent moves by the U.S. Justice Department show an increasing effort to criminally prosecute companies that have noncompete agreements deemed too restrictive.

Here are five cases involving health systems, physician groups and physicians  under fire for alleged anticompetitive conduct:

1. In January, the Federal Trade Commission approved a final order imposing limits on future mergers by DaVita, a dialysis service provider. The FTC said DaVita's acquisition of Salt Lake City-based University of Utah Health's dialysis clinics would be anticompetitive.

DaVita was then required to sell three dialysis clinics to Sanderling Renal Services and won't be able to enforce noncompete agreements or other employee restrictions under its final agreement with the FTC.

2. Also in January, a lawsuit was filed against HCA Healthcare alleging the Nashville, Tenn.-based health system engaged in a pattern of forming sham partnerships with the largest surgical practices in a given area in order to run them into the ground and improve its own market position. The lawsuit alleges HCA is building a regional monopoly in Sarasota, Fla., as part of a nationwide scheme.

3. In February, the Justice Department issued a statement about a case where Nevada anesthesiologists sued Reno-based Pickert Medical Group, alleging the organization's noncompete provisions violated Nevada state law. 

Pickert anesthesiologists were allowed to provide services to Reno-based Renown Health facilities per an exclusive agreement between the two organizations, but if the contract was terminated, the anesthesiologists were prohibited from serving facilities within 25 miles of any Renown facility or other facilities at which the anesthesiologists had previously worked. The Justice Department said the noncompete could be seen as an attempt by Pickert to restrict any competitors within the areas covered by the noncompete agreements. 

4. In February, Ricardo Cigarroa, MD, the Laredo (Texas) Medical Center and its physicians group urged a federal judge to dismiss a hospital's suit accusing the group of poaching physicians and monopolizing the area's cardiology market. The Doctors Hospital of Laredo and the Laredo Physicians Group sued in October alleging Dr. Cigarroa entered a conspiracy with Cigarroa Institute, a cardiology outpatient clinic, and Laredo Medical Center to engage in "anticompetitive and tortious behavior" to stop recruitment efforts. 

5. In February, Hartford, Conn.-based Hartford HealthCare Corp was sued for alleged anticompetitive behavior with its physician acquisition strategy. Hartford residents sued the organization alleging the health system has used "unlawful and anticompetitive methods to restrain trade, to acquire a monopoly on acute inpatient hospital services in many key regions of the state, and to abuse the monopoly by using it to extract higher prices from insurers, employers and patients throughout the areas it does business."

Copyright © 2022 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Learning Opportunities

Featured Webinars

Featured Whitepapers

Featured Podcast