Breaking News
July 21, 2018 - Coupling free malaria tests with diagnosis-dependent vouchers can improve rational use of ACTs
July 21, 2018 - Sweetness depends on molecular interactions between specific sugars and water in saliva
July 21, 2018 - Muscle fitness is strongly associated with improved rate of ageing in the brain
July 21, 2018 - Resetting E-Prescriptions for Opioids Helps Curb Use: Study
July 21, 2018 - Overuse of antibiotics not what the doctor ordered
July 21, 2018 - Bundled-payment system did not lower costs for serious medical conditions, shows study
July 21, 2018 - Therapy dogs found to be effective in reducing ADHD symptoms in children
July 21, 2018 - Could rotating multiple therapists better treat PTSD patients?
July 21, 2018 - Binge drinking impairs working memory in adolescent brain
July 21, 2018 - Dying at home could be beneficial for terminally ill cancer patients and their relatives
July 21, 2018 - Researchers identify subtypes of retinal ganglion cells using single-cell RNA sequencing
July 21, 2018 - Study uncovers opportunities to reduce death by suicide among cancer patients
July 21, 2018 - Genetic sequencing reveals new clues to aggressiveness of prostate cancer
July 21, 2018 - BioSight Launches a Phase 2b Clinical Trial of BST-236 as a First-Line Treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia
July 21, 2018 - First major study comparing robotic to open surgery published in The Lancet
July 21, 2018 - ADHD medications may fail to improve cognition in healthy college students, study shows
July 21, 2018 - Intervention program that includes a personalized app could benefit teens with suicidal thoughts
July 21, 2018 - Researchers identify new compound that protects against neurodegeneration
July 21, 2018 - Gene therapy may hold potential to treat people with spinal cord injuries
July 21, 2018 - FDA Approves Nivestym (filgrastim-aafi), a Biosimilar to Neupogen
July 21, 2018 - Surgeons have substantial impact on genetic testing in breast cancer patients who need it
July 21, 2018 - Species diversity can have positive and negative impacts on disease transmission
July 21, 2018 - Genome research suggests presence of enteric fever in medieval Europe
July 21, 2018 - Risk of Sensory Deficits Drops With Rising Gestational Age
July 21, 2018 - Mum’s sleep matters—the effect of sleep on an unborn baby
July 21, 2018 - UC San Diego researchers awarded two grants for investigating stem cell-based therapies
July 21, 2018 - Cellular ‘garbage disposal’ may actually work on some of the proteins to neuronal development
July 21, 2018 - More Pregnant Women Having Heart Attacks
July 21, 2018 - Acne Breakouts | NIH News in Health
July 21, 2018 - Change health messaging to focus on potential impact to help stop the next pandemic
July 21, 2018 - Frailty associated with poor survival rates in young heart patients
July 21, 2018 - New discovery could save millions of lives from fatal fungal infections
July 21, 2018 - OBD presents latest data on the use of EpiSwitch™ in predicting patient response to immunotherapy and identifying lymphoma subtypes
July 21, 2018 - Childhood adversity increases susceptibility to addiction via immune response
July 21, 2018 - Scientists identify potential target for the treatment of binge eating
July 21, 2018 - Whole-brain LIPUS therapy improves cognitive dysfunction in mice simulating dementia, Alzheimer’s
July 21, 2018 - Digital media use raising risk of ADHD symptoms among the young
July 21, 2018 - Phase 3 study of tanezumab in patients with osteoarthritis pain meets all three co-primary endpoints
July 21, 2018 - Restoring mitochondrial function to reverse aging-related skin wrinkles, hair loss in mice
July 21, 2018 - SP PennTech introduces RW-500 rotary vial washer for biotech, pharmaceutical applications
July 21, 2018 - Researchers to study molecular mechanisms behind susceptibility of males to autism
July 21, 2018 - Using tendon transfer surgery to restore key functions in spinal cord injury patient
July 21, 2018 - Scientists create wearable device that measures cortisol in sweat
July 21, 2018 - Researchers study efficacy and safety of new treatment for OUD
July 21, 2018 - Fourth Published Clinical Trial Confirms Long-Term Safety of Niagen Supplementation at High Doses and Shows Potential for Improvement in Liver Health
July 21, 2018 - Study examines effects of a two-day intermittent calorie restriction diet for patients with type 2 diabetes
July 21, 2018 - Greening vacant urban land reduces feelings of depression for surrounding residents
July 21, 2018 - Parents say intense gun violence in PG-13 movies appropriate for teens 15 and older
July 21, 2018 - Collaborative study to assess effects of exercise training for cognitive deficits in MS
July 21, 2018 - FAU researchers find possible cause of Parkinson’s disease in the patients’ immune system
July 21, 2018 - Protective qualities of ‘good cholesterol’ reduce after menopause
July 21, 2018 - Researchers develop new way to uncover hidden breast cancer tumors
July 21, 2018 - FDA approves first drug for treatment of adult AML patients with specific genetic mutation
July 21, 2018 - Top AI companies join hands to discover novel drugs for DMD
July 21, 2018 - Ferring announces FDA approval of ZOMACTON for injection in four new pediatric indications
July 20, 2018 - Researchers design proteins that can self-assemble into complex structures
July 20, 2018 - AVITA Medical expands management team to support launch of RECELL device to treat burns
July 20, 2018 - FDA Approves Tibsovo (ivosidenib) for Relapsed or Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia with an IDH1 Mutation
July 20, 2018 - Developmental screening and surveillance rates remain low, new study suggests
July 20, 2018 - TGen opens tissue donation portal to advance DIPG research
July 20, 2018 - Health impact of highly processed summertime staples
July 20, 2018 - Exergaming can improve health in overweight and obese children, study shows
July 20, 2018 - Postmenopausal factors may impact heart-protective qualities of ‘good cholesterol’
July 20, 2018 - MRI and blood test combination results in improved prostate cancer diagnosis
July 20, 2018 - Update Health Professional and Consumer on Recent Recalled Products
July 20, 2018 - Researchers trace Parkinson’s damage in the heart
July 20, 2018 - Wearable device designed to measure cortisol in sweat
July 20, 2018 - Scientists demonstrate a new regulation mechanism for skeletal muscles
July 20, 2018 - Exposure to mobile phone radiation may negatively impact memory performance in adolescents
July 20, 2018 - SUSU scientists find alternative method to treat post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome
July 20, 2018 - Gestational diabetes may increase offspring’s heart disease risk
July 20, 2018 - New vaccine could protect unborn babies from Zika virus
July 20, 2018 - Researchers find high mercury and methylmercury concentrations in traditional Tibetan medicine
July 20, 2018 - Brief Safety Plan Intervention in ER Can Cut Suicidal Behavior
July 20, 2018 - The Mount Sinai Hospital receives accreditation as geriatric emergency department
July 20, 2018 - Toward a better understanding of Parkinson’s disease
July 20, 2018 - Med school communications office wins four national awards | News Center
July 20, 2018 - Professional baseball players with faster hand-eye coordination may have better batting performance
July 20, 2018 - Study looks into mechanisms that control sleep and wakefulness
July 20, 2018 - Scientists identify melanoma biomarkers that could help tailor immunotherapy treatments
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