Idaho hospital turf war escalates with lawsuit

Associated Press Modified: November 12, 2012 at 7:31 pm •  Published: November 12, 2012
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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A southwestern Idaho hospital turf war escalated Monday with medical groups suing a rival in federal court to block its latest expansion plan.

St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center is the main plaintiff behind an antitrust lawsuit meant to halt Boise-based St. Luke's Health System from buying physician-owned Saltzer Medical Group, which has many of its offices in Nampa.

In U.S. District Court, St. Alphonsus argues St. Luke's acquisition of Saltzer's facilities threatens to monopolize a broad series of markets, increasing costs, reducing quality — and crippling St. Alphonsus' Nampa hospital. The lawsuit was filed as federal and state regulators have separately been scrutinizing St. Luke's advances toward Saltzer.

"St. Luke's will gain a near monopoly share in the Nampa, Idaho market for adult primary care physician services market," St. Alphonsus lawyers wrote in their 42-page complaint seeking a judge to stop St. Luke's purchase. "It will continue its practice of foreclosing virtually all competition for the hospital admissions of the physician practices it acquires."

In addition to blocking the deal, St. Alphonsus wants St. Luke's to be forced to pay it three times damages and attorney fees, customary for antitrust cases.

Because St. Alphonsus's Nampa hospital depends on Saltzer for many of its patients, it said allowing the transaction to proceed could result in 140 layoffs.

Other plaintiffs include Treasure Valley Hospital Limited Partnership, a private surgical venture with St. Alphonsus with locations in Boise and Nampa, which contends St. Luke's anticipated purchase could force it to lay off 10 percent of its staff and cancel or delay planned capital improvements.

Catholic-owned St. Alphonsus is a part of Michigan-based Trinity Health, which runs the nation's 10th-largest health system.



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