Breaking News
September 18, 2018 - Protect your heart and health during ‘dog days’ of summer
September 18, 2018 - Faculty receive awards for promise in biomedical research, clinical care | News Center
September 18, 2018 - Digital games for CVD-related self-management improve exercise capacity and energy expenditure
September 18, 2018 - Adding PET scans to CT imaging can change treatment for women with cervical cancer
September 18, 2018 - Zika virus vaccine shows promise for treatment of fatal glioblastoma
September 18, 2018 - Theravance Biopharma and Mylan to Report New Data from Phase 3 Studies of Yupelri (revefenacin) in Oral Presentation at European Respiratory Society International Congress 2018
September 18, 2018 - INSiGHT identifies unique retinal regulatory genes
September 18, 2018 - Diversity, science leadership grants awarded to student-faculty pairs | News Center
September 18, 2018 - Many parents blame electronics for sleep problems among teens
September 18, 2018 - Researchers study neuronal activity in brain that prevents individuals from doing physical activity
September 18, 2018 - Purifying Proteins from Mammalian Cell Culture
September 18, 2018 - Researchers map 3D structure of toxic proteins used by Pseudomonas aeruginosa to trigger infection
September 18, 2018 - Outcome of ACL reconstruction related to the way you move post-surgery
September 18, 2018 - Study aims to investigate risk factors for PPCs in surgical patients with gastric cancer
September 18, 2018 - Ardelyx Submits New Drug Application for Tenapanor for IBS-C
September 18, 2018 - Sociodemographic disparities in eyeglass use among elderly
September 18, 2018 - New Drug Shows Promise for Progressive Form of MS
September 18, 2018 - Babies exposed to higher levels of organochlorine compounds in womb may have worse lung function
September 18, 2018 - Women exposed to trauma in their lives gave birth to underweight male infants
September 18, 2018 - Probiotic supplementation may reduce use of antibiotics, scientific analysis shows
September 18, 2018 - Resveratrol decreases pain severity and levels of inflammatory biomarkers in osteoarthritis patients
September 18, 2018 - Research shows pollution is reaching the placenta
September 18, 2018 - KAIST researchers develop heart-targeting drug delivery technology using tannin acid
September 18, 2018 - Muscle relaxants used during general anesthesia can increase risk of pulmonary complications
September 18, 2018 - Silicone breast implants may increase risk of rare adverse outcomes in women
September 18, 2018 - Pediatricians Have a Role in Encouraging Play Among Children
September 18, 2018 - California’s Medicaid program hits ‘print’ when the feds need info
September 18, 2018 - Genes, environment and schizophrenia—new study finds the placenta is the missing link
September 18, 2018 - Boehringer Ingelheim announces study results of COPD patients treated with Spiolto Respimat
September 18, 2018 - PAREXEL launches Patient Innovation Center to improve drug development process
September 18, 2018 - Children’s National and NIAID launch pediatric clinical research partnership
September 18, 2018 - Researchers may be overlooking complexities in social relations of primates
September 18, 2018 - Key signaling molecule that helps stem cells make healthy bone declines as we age
September 18, 2018 - More women veterans with chronic pain use CIH therapies than men
September 18, 2018 - As Earth Warms, Heat-Related Deaths Will Multiply
September 18, 2018 - Labetalol use up for patients with preeclampsia and asthma
September 18, 2018 - MoreGrasp project shows significant results in field of thought-controlled grasp neuroprosthetics
September 18, 2018 - Drumming can benefit school children with autism
September 18, 2018 - Busyness can help people to make virtuous choices, research shows
September 18, 2018 - Two-minute bursts of in-class exercise breaks do not disrupt learning and teaching
September 18, 2018 - New online tools aid surgeons and specialists who care for older people
September 18, 2018 - Researchers use CRISPR to identify gene that helps cells resist flavivirus infection
September 18, 2018 - Brain’s support cells may play a central role in repetitive behaviors related to OCD
September 18, 2018 - Scientists discover novel mechanism by which synthesized proteins reach target compartment in cell
September 18, 2018 - Easy and rapid test for viral infections can cut antibiotic use, hospitalizations
September 18, 2018 - Gunshot victims more likely to require blood transfusions and die than other trauma patients
September 18, 2018 - Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals Announces Initiation of Phase 1b/2 Clinical Trial of Sapacitabine With Olaparib in BRCA Mutant Breast Cancer
September 18, 2018 - Older adults fitted with cochlear implants exhibit poor brain function
September 18, 2018 - Inexpensive testing spurs cancer patients’ relatives to assess own disease risk | News Center
September 18, 2018 - Aging may have originated at the very beginning of life, says study
September 18, 2018 - New research on sperm quality updates advice for couples trying to conceive
September 18, 2018 - Paracetamol use in infancy may increase risk of developing asthma by the age of 18
September 18, 2018 - Promising gene therapy for ‘day blind’ sheep now safe for clinical trials in human patients
September 18, 2018 - New research shows evidence of soot from polluted air in placentas
September 17, 2018 - Expanding primary care buprenorphine treatment could curb opioid overdose crisis
September 17, 2018 - A look inside the child detention centers near the U.S. border
September 17, 2018 - New issue considers role of coronary angiography after cardiac arrest
September 17, 2018 - Scientists explore whether seafood could be the source of next anti-cancer drug
September 17, 2018 - Epidural stimulation aids in recovery of individuals with spinal cord injury
September 17, 2018 - ATS publishes new guideline on role of weight management in sleep apnea treatment
September 17, 2018 - Study reveals long-term safety, efficacy of Ofev in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
September 17, 2018 - Risks Posed by Spreading Oil and Gas Wastewater on Roads
September 17, 2018 - How to choose a nursing home: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
September 17, 2018 - Death from touching fentanyl? A myth, says Trump administration training video
September 17, 2018 - Physician or physician-scientist — a new curriculum at the School of Medicine trains both
September 17, 2018 - Why Genetic Mutations Cause Disease in Some People but Not Others
September 17, 2018 - EU-funded project makes recommendations to protect rights of intersex people
September 17, 2018 - Discovery of unusual biosynthetic pathways could aid in the search for new natural products
September 17, 2018 - FDA approves Teva’s AJOVY injection for preventive treatment of migraine in adults
September 17, 2018 - People battling substance use disorders may benefit from meth-relapse prevention compound
September 17, 2018 - Inhaled steroid use linked to greater risk of NTM lung infections
September 17, 2018 - KKH develops new test to enable faster diagnosis of critically ill children with rare diseases
September 17, 2018 - How to Reassure Kids When Florence Strikes
September 17, 2018 - Scientists develop new technique to heal large ulcers by reprogramming wound cells into skin cells
September 17, 2018 - How researchers are working to render disease obsolete
September 17, 2018 - Study confirms link between use of muscle relaxants and respiratory complications
September 17, 2018 - Machine learning program could distinguish between two lung cancer types
September 17, 2018 - Ensysce receives award from NIDA to undertake development of opioid overdose protection platform
September 17, 2018 - Women with undiagnosed STIs may be at greater risk of negative premenstrual symptoms
September 17, 2018 - New discovery could improve diagnosis and treatment of lupus in black Africans
California sues Sutter Health alleging excessive pricing

California sues Sutter Health alleging excessive pricing

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

California’s attorney general announced a lawsuit Friday against Sutter Health, alleging the hospital giant engaged in anticompetitive conduct that drove up prices for patients and employers in the state.

The lawsuit marked a bold move by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra against the dominant health care system in Northern California as concerns mount nationally about consolidation among hospitals, insurers and other industry middlemen.

“It’s time to hold health care corporations accountable,” Becerra said at a news conference Friday. “We seek to stop Sutter from continuing this illegal conduct.”

Sutter, which owns 24 hospitals, reported net income of $893 million last year on $12.4 billion in revenue.

Sutter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sutter has disputed such allegations in the past and says its market conduct and fees are in line with its competitors’.

This high-profile legal fight will attract attention from employers and policymakers across the country amid growing alarm about the financial implications of industry consolidation. Large health systems are gaining market clout and the ability to raise prices by acquiring more hospitals, outpatient surgery centers and physicians’ offices.

The complaints about Sutter’s high prices and market power have persisted for years.

A 2016 study found that hospital prices at Sutter and Dignity Health, the two biggest hospital chains in California, were 25 percent higher than at other hospitals around the state. Researchers at the University of Southern California said the giant health systems used their market power to drive up prices — making the average patient admission at both chains nearly $4,000 more expensive.

This week, researchers at University of California-Berkeley issued a report that examined the consolidation of the hospital, physician and health insurance markets in California from 2010 to 2016. The authors said 44 of California’s 58 counties had “highly concentrated” hospital markets.

The problem is worse in Northern California, and the report said prices for medical procedures are often up to 30 percent higher there than in Southern California, which has more competition.

“Consumers are paying more for health care as a result of market consolidation. It is now time for regulators and legislators to take action,” according to the report by the Petris Center on Health Care Markets and Consumer Welfare at UC-Berkeley.

After the report was issued Monday, Becerra said his office would be reviewing those findings and pledged to apply more scrutiny to health care mergers and anticompetitive practices across the state.

Becerra’s lawsuit could build off a similar civil case filed in 2014 by a grocery workers’ health plan.

The plaintiffs in that case, scheduled for trial next year, allege Sutter is violating antitrust and fair competition laws. The plaintiffs have been requesting documents related to contracting practices, such as “gag clauses” that prevent patients from seeing negotiated rates and choosing a cheaper provider. They also are challenging “all-or-nothing” terms that require every facility in a health system to be included in insurance networks.

In November, the state judge handling the grocery workers’ case said Sutter was “grossly reckless” when it intentionally destroyed 192 boxes of documents that employers and labor unions were seeking in the lawsuit. San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow said Sutter destroyed documents “knowing that the evidence was relevant to antitrust issues. … There is no good explanation for the specific and unusual destruction here.”

The lead plaintiffs, the United Food and Commercial Workers and its Employers Benefit Trust, are a joint employer-union health plan that represents more than 60,000 employees, dependents and retirees. The court certified its case as a class action in August, allowing hundreds of other employers and self-funded health plans to potentially benefit from the litigation.

In addition to its 24 hospitals, Sutter’s nonprofit health system has 35 surgery centers, 32 urgent-care clinics and more than 5,000 physicians in its network.

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

Chad Terhune: [email protected], @chadterhune


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles