Seth Goldstein Comments on Sutter Health Antitrust Case

AIS Health Plan Weekly

Seth Goldstein was quoted extensively in the AIS Health Plan Weekly article “Sutter Health Wins Antitrust Case Amid Stronger Enforcement” (subscription required). 

The article examines Sutter’s recent victory in a class action case filed by a group of individuals and health plan sponsors accusing Sutter of anticompetitive practices, such as price-gouging, which allegedly resulted from Sutter having geographic strongholds in certain areas across the country. Plaintiffs claimed that Sutter forced pricing and contracts on them that violated state and federal antitrust and unfair competition laws.

The article also notes that a concern similar to those raised by plaintiffs in the Sutter matter—higher prices resulting from one entity dominating a geographic area—was among the chief reasons that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Rhode Island Attorney General sued to block a proposed merger between Care New England and Lifespan Corp, two of Rhode Island’s largest healthcare providers. As a result of the suit being filed, the merger did not move forward.

“Those concerns were central to the Sutter Health case,” Seth told AIS Health. The allegation was “individuals were paying more out of pocket for health care services as a result of what the hospitals are doing.”

He added, “One of the most interesting things about the [Sutter] case is that, generally in big antitrust litigation, there’s a big fear on behalf of most defendants of going to a jury trial…the worry is always that it’s going to be really complicated to try to explain to a jury why what they did is legit. Here, the case went to trial, and eventually they were able to explain adequately that, ‘We weren’t really doing the thing that the plaintiffs say we were doing.’”

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