Economists, trade groups, state AGs take sides in St. Luke’s antitrust case

Health insurers, doctors, attorneys general and nonprofit interest groups are among those who have backed either St. Luke’s Health System or its opponents in a nationally watched hospital antitrust case.

The lawsuit stems from St. Luke’s buyout in 2012 of Nampa-based Saltzer Medical Group. Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden had warned St. Luke’s and Saltzer not to close on the sale while Wasden’s office and the Federal Trade Commission were still investigating possible antitrust violations. Saint Alphonsus Health System and Boise surgical center Treasure Valley Hospital opposed the takeover. A federal judge in Boise ruled against St. Luke’s, and so did an appellate court, although St. Luke’s has asked that court to reconsider.

Court records show that among groups that supported St. Luke’s were America’s Essential Hospitals, the International Center of Law and Economics and the Medicaid Defense Fund. Among opponents were the attorneys general of 16 states, the health insurance industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Association of Independent Doctors and the Catalyst for Payment Reform.