St. Luke's appeals court decision on Saltzer Medical Group

June 12, 2014 

— St. Luke's Health System on Thursday asked an appeals court (click for PDF) to reverse a federal judge's Jan. 24 decision ordering St. Luke's to undo its 2012 purchase of Saltzer Medical Group in Nampa.

The hospital system appealed District Judge B. Lynn Winmill's ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. St. Luke's was sued for anti-competitive behavior by the Saint Alphonsus Health System, Treasure Valley Hospital, the Federal Trade Commission and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.

The St. Luke's appeal could have far-reaching impacts, said Dr. David Pate, the health system's CEO. Among other things, the 9th Circuit's decision will determine whether antitrust laws can keep health systems in small and mid-sized markets from "tightly affiliating" with physician groups to build new payment and health-care delivery models, he said.

St. Luke's claims Winmill erred when he concluded the Saltzer acquisition would cause substantial anti-competitive effects in Canyon County. St. Luke's said the acquisition would actually increase competition.

The Boise-based health system also questions Winmill's ruling that the buyout would give St. Luke's "leverage" to squeeze higher payments from insurance companies by controlling a larger share of the health-care market.

Winmill paid attention to the wrong kind of payment data when he decided the buyout was likely to drive up medical costs, St. Luke's said.

"We continue to believe the affiliation will provide a better health-care delivery model with improved access to care at a lower cost for people in Canyon County and its surrounding areas," Pate said.

Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, @IDS_Audrey

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