Saint Francis Hospital v. Hartford HealthCareDate Filed: January 11, 2022
District Court: District of Connecticut – Case No. 3:22-CV-00050
Nature of Suit: Antitrust - Anticompetitive Practice
Defendant Type: Provider
Plaintiff Type: Private
Case Info: https://sourceonhealthcare.org/private-enforcement-cases-highlight-consolidation-and-anticompetitive-practices-in-healthcare-industry/
Court Document: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/21177217-stfrancislawsuit
In February 2021, Saint Francis Hospital sued Hartford HealthCare, one of two major health systems in Connecticut, alleging that Hartford’s physician practice acquisitions and resulting practices harmed competition and consumers in the Hartford region, in violation of the federal Sherman and Clayton Acts as well as the Connecticut Antitrust Act. Alleged anticompetitive practices include:
- acquiring physician practices to achieve dominant market share in several physician specialties;
- using threats to demand these doctors refer all or most cases to Hartford’s hospitals;
- using financial penalties to require physicians to exclusively practice through Hartford’s physician network; and
- interfering with managed care plans’ use of tiered networks that would allow patients to utilize lower cost providers.
As a result of these practices, the complaint alleges that Hartford has directly enhanced its bargaining power with health plans and was able to charge rates more than 15% higher for lesser quality service than other hospitals in the region. The complaint further claimed evidence of Hartford’s blatant goal of stifling competition, alleging Hartford had acquired two dozen surgeons and specialists in hematology, oncology, cardiology and neurology over the last four years, with more planned.
On February 13, 2023, the court ruled on Hartford’s motion to dismiss by granting in part and denying in part. On the whole, the court held that Saint Francis stated plausible federal and state antitrust claims as well as a state claim for tortious interference with business relations. However, the court granted the dismissal of one claim alleging Hartford violated antitrust law by refusing to participate in tiered networking and other similar programs.