On stand, CEO says St. Luke's doesn't tell docs where to send patients

adutton@idahostatesman.comOctober 8, 2013 

Dr. David Pate, 54 greets employees before a meeting. He oversees more than 8,000 employees in the St. Luke's Health System, which is now Idaho's largest private employer.

CHRIS BUTLER — Chris Butler/Idaho Statesman

The CEO of the St. Luke's Health System took the stand Tuesday in the antitrust trial against the system.

David Pate insisted that St. Luke’s does not tell its doctors where to send patients for lab tests, X-rays, specialist care or any other services.

“I wouldn’t tolerate it,” Pate said. “I would find it highly objectionable.”

The state and federal governments, Saint Alphonsus Health System and Boise's Treasure Valley Hospital sued St. Luke's, saying its purchase of Nampa's Saltzer Medical Group last year will lead to overwhelming St. Luke's market dominance in Canyon County and drive up costs of health care there. One argument they're making is that when St. Luke's buys a physician practice, patient referrals made by doctors in that practice favor St. Luke's.

Pate, who came to Idaho from Houston four years ago to lead Idaho's biggest hospital system, said he is trying to "transform health care" here to make it more efficient and, in the long run, less expensive.

This is the third week of the four-week trial. The first two weeks were devoted to plaintiffs' arguments. These two weeks are devoted to St. Luke's defense.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, Twitter: @IDS_Audrey

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