A federal judge has ordered Saltzer Medical Group to be sold in the next 12 months by a trustee.
St. Luke’s Health System cannot purchase the group. Saint Alphonsus Health System has denied interest in buying it, saying it wishes for Saltzer to remain an independent competitor.
The order comes nearly two years after U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ordered St. Luke’s to divest of Saltzer.
The Federal Trade Commission, Idaho attorney general, Saint Alphonsus and Treasure Valley Hospital argued that when St. Luke’s bought Saltzer in late 2012, the deal was an illegal power grab — violating antitrust laws meant to protect competition. Winmill agreed, saying the deal likely would increase prices for medical care in the Nampa area.
Earlier this year, St. Luke’s and Saltzer said the practice could not be reconstituted as it was before the buyout, because of changes in the practice and in the health-care industry, and that St. Luke’s attempts to find a buyer had been fruitless. Saltzer believed its best chance of remaining a viable competitor would be to spin off into a primary-care focused practice, according to court filings.
The FTC and other plaintiffs said they were concerned that St. Luke’s was planning to keep parts of Saltzer, against the order.
Winmill’s order this week names Cain Bros. as the trustee to oversee the sale.
St. Luke’s also cannot hire any adult primary-care doctor away from Saltzer in the next five years without approval from the plaintiffs.
Cain Bros. will find the best price and terms of sale for Saltzer’s assets, “subject to St. Luke’s absolute and unconditional obligation to divest expeditiously and at no minimum price,” the order said.
Cain Bros. should focus on choosing “the party most likely to maintain Saltzer as a viable, independent, competitive entity,” instead of choosing the party with the best price, it said.