The St. Luke's Health System purchase of Nampa's Saltzer Medical Group expanded the system's market share of Nampa-area primary care at a rate "well above the thresholds needed for a presumption of illegality," the Federal Trade Commission and Idaho Attorney General said in a newly unsealed lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that the buyout, completed at the end of last year, would raise costs for patients and insurers. It includes a handful of prices and statistics and a quote from a St. Luke's board member, who wrote in an internal email, "Lets be realistic. Employing physicians is not achieving better cost, its achieving better profit."
That quote, in particular, is taken out of context, according to a statement released Tuesday night by St. Luke's.
"While we don't know the exact nature of the exchange, we pride ourselves on allowing our board members to challenge our assumptions and ask hard questions," the statement reads. "Even if the board member believes this is the case, it does not make it the view of the organization."
The lawsuit also criticizes the compensation offered to Saltzer physicians, saying the expense will be passed on to employers and other insurance customers.
St. Luke's disagrees with most of the allegations in the lawsuit, according to the organization's statement.
"We are affiliating with Saltzer for one reason and one reason alone, and that is to provide better care at a lower cost by providing a fully integrated health care delivery system," the statement reads. "Our goal has always been and will continue to be to work to lower costs."