Courtroom closed to public Tuesday in St. Luke's trial

adutton@idahostatesman.comSeptember 24, 2013 

Idaho health insurance officials took the stand behind closed doors Tuesday, during a trial that pits Idaho's major health care providers against each other.

The courtroom will be off-limits to the public for portions of the trial, which examines whether St. Luke's Health System broke the law when it bought Saltzer Medical Group, giving it a much larger share of the primary care market in Nampa.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill is allowing certain testimony to be designated "attorneys' eyes only" — meaning that even employees of businesses involved in the lawsuit must leave the courtroom — if it could reveal trade secrets, such as a witness explaining how a health insurer negotiates with hospitals. However, some transcripts of testimony will be available after attorneys review the transcripts and redact sensitive information.

The trial started Monday with opening statements from the Idaho Attorney General, Federal Trade Commission, Saint Alphonsus Health System, Treasure Valley Hospital and from the two businesses they are suing — St. Luke's and Saltzer. The courtroom was closed Monday while a Saint Alphonsus attorney gave his opening statement and while the first witness, a Blue Cross of Idaho official, took the stand.

The courtroom is likely to be open to the public Wednesday, which is expected to start with the video deposition of a former Regence BlueShield of Idaho executive.

St. Luke's CEO David Pate and Saint Alphonsus CEO Sally Jeffcoat have written blog posts about the first day of the trial. Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden — represented in court by Brett DeLange, consumer protection division chief — has posted opening statements from DeLange and FTC Attorney Tom Greene.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, @IDS_Audrey

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