Breaking News
April 24, 2018 - Study sheds new light on how bilinguals process language
April 24, 2018 - Probiotics can improve liver health, shows study
April 24, 2018 - Study may explain how chemoresistance evolves over time in some triple-negative breast cancers
April 24, 2018 - Role of midbrain in encoding identity errors
April 23, 2018 - Salamander study provides clues for treating spinal cord injuries
April 23, 2018 - Relaxation after work could give better night’s sleep
April 23, 2018 - Loneliness on its way to becoming Britain’s most lethal condition
April 23, 2018 - Low-cost blood test for multiple myeloma can deliver same diagnostic information as bone biopsy
April 23, 2018 - Metabolic differences may contribute to postpartum weight retention in black moms
April 23, 2018 - Time-Related Deployment Factors Predict Suicide Attempt Risk
April 23, 2018 - Are newborns ugly? Research says newborns rated ‘less cute’ than older babies
April 23, 2018 - Prenatal marijuana use linked to increased chance of low birth weights
April 23, 2018 - Researchers identify target gene in P. aeruginosa infection
April 23, 2018 - New studies related to causes of liver degradation and possible treatments
April 23, 2018 - Studies offer leads for new approaches to treat neurological problems
April 23, 2018 - Gene Therapy May Be Cure for Some With Rare Blood Disorder
April 23, 2018 - Obesity impacts liver health in kids as young as eight years old
April 23, 2018 - Frequent cannabis use by young people linked to small reductions in cognitive function
April 23, 2018 - Innovative research could lead to new ways to treat, prevent cancer
April 23, 2018 - Study uncovers possible source of gender differences in migraines
April 23, 2018 - Study proves usefulness of EDX testing in diagnosis, management of neuromuscular disorders
April 23, 2018 - Hacking ‘drug trafficking’ system could increase effectiveness of diabetes treatment
April 23, 2018 - Clinical trial to examine stem cell therapy for treatment, prevention of complications after traumatic injury
April 23, 2018 - Targeted radiotherapy found to be a good option for women with early breast cancer
April 23, 2018 - Eating fish could prevent Parkinson’s disease
April 23, 2018 - Philips showcases dedicated radiation oncology solutions at ESTRO 2018
April 23, 2018 - Key factor in development of Parkinson’s disease identified
April 23, 2018 - Higher consumption of fish linked to better neurological health
April 23, 2018 - Genevac announces HT Series 3 evaporators with Inert Gas Purge option
April 23, 2018 - Researchers clarify immune response for patients with breast cancer brain metastases
April 23, 2018 - Polypharmacy More Likely for Cancer Survivors
April 23, 2018 - Obesity is shifting cancer to young adults
April 23, 2018 - Scientists illustrate role of novel chromosomal mutations in fosfomycin resistance
April 23, 2018 - Newly developed drug compound may help treat Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
April 23, 2018 - Marriage Means ‘I Do’ for Skin Cancer Detection
April 23, 2018 - Freezing hunger-signaling nerve may help ignite weight loss
April 23, 2018 - Wear exoskeletons with caution for heavy lifting, researchers say
April 23, 2018 - Research offers new hope for healing wounds in patients with diabetes
April 23, 2018 - Shorter courses of radiotherapy found to be safe, effective for prostate cancer patients
April 23, 2018 - Scientists use CRISPR tool to make multiple edits to DNA samples ‘in vitro’
April 23, 2018 - Knee reconstructions are on the rise among the youth in Australia
April 23, 2018 - Artificial sweeteners linked to obesity warn researchers
April 23, 2018 - CDC seeking $400 million to replace lab for deadliest germs
April 23, 2018 - Sensirion to present single-use liquid flow sensor at COMPAMED 2017
April 23, 2018 - FDA approves contact lenses that shade the sun
April 22, 2018 - Concussion recovery and symptom severity found to vary between men and women
April 22, 2018 - C. Difficile Risk Higher With Stoma Reversal Versus Colectomy
April 22, 2018 - Repeated ranibizumab doesn’t impair macular perfusion
April 22, 2018 - New microscope reveals how cells behave in 3D and real time inside living organisms
April 22, 2018 - Study shows clinical benefit and monetary gains of weight-loss surgery
April 22, 2018 - GNA Biosolutions launches world’s first Laser PCR platform at Medica Trade Fair
April 22, 2018 - Researchers present simulation model to investigate hospital responsiveness to mass casualty incidents
April 22, 2018 - Does Pot Really Dull a Teen’s Brain?
April 22, 2018 - Controversial pregnancy test drug shows deformities in zebrafish embryos within hours of exposure
April 22, 2018 - New research partnership makes childbirth safer in Mozambique
April 22, 2018 - Brief bedside visual art intervention reduces pain, anxiety in cancer patients
April 22, 2018 - The memory part of the brain may also hold clues for anxiety and depression
April 22, 2018 - AYOXXA to develop multiplex immunoassay to support treatment of sepsis patients
April 22, 2018 - New Drug Combo Ups Survival in HER2/neu Uterine Serous Cancer
April 22, 2018 - Researchers chart a new way to look at concussion
April 22, 2018 - Every parent needs to know fundamental red flags for autism
April 22, 2018 - Anatotemp expands anatomic dental implant healing abutments with 4Side anti-rotational connection
April 22, 2018 - Gene Twist Can Make Your Blood Pressure Spike From Salt
April 22, 2018 - Study suggests failed osteoarthritis drug could help treat opioid addiction
April 22, 2018 - More Americans aware of growing problem of opioid addiction
April 22, 2018 - KHN’s ‘What the Health?’ Nothing in health care ever goes away
April 22, 2018 - BGS to promote high-quality sterilization services at Health GB in Manchester
April 22, 2018 - New integrated POC tool detects biomarkers of heart failure rapidly and precisely
April 22, 2018 - Direct electrical current can be delivered to nerves for blocking pain signals
April 22, 2018 - Newly Published Phase 2 Study Found Esketamine Demonstrated Significantly Rapid Improvements in Depressive Symptoms and Suicidality
April 22, 2018 - Healthy red blood cells owe their shape to muscle-like structures
April 22, 2018 - Researchers present case study of management of rheumatic mitral regurgitation in woman contemplating pregnancy
April 22, 2018 - New black Porvair Krystal UV Quartz microplates for Circular Dichroism measurements
April 22, 2018 - Advanced flow chemistry modules enhance control of nanoprecipitation
April 22, 2018 - Look! Down in the petri dish! It’s a superplatelet!
April 22, 2018 - Research reveals why people with tetraplegia more likely to suffer from sleep apnea
April 21, 2018 - New non-invasive nerve stimulation may offer relief for people with hand tremor
April 21, 2018 - Smartphone App May Up Medication Adherence in HTN
April 21, 2018 - Western diet depletes artery-protecting immune cells
April 21, 2018 - Excelitas Technologies launches new powerful LED light source for fluorescence microscopy
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