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Health System Integration and Antitrust Laws on Collision Course

Health systems attempting to fulfill the mandate of integrating hospitals and physicians may find themselves accused of going too far.  Although the Affordable Care Act, shared savings, gainsharing and other alternative payment methodologies have made integration of physicians, hospitals and other providers an operational goal, success in reaching that goal may be challenged by private antitrust actions.

In a recent Florida federal court decision, the antitrust complaint of “several of Southern Brevard County’s physicians and physicians practice groups” was held to have stated a monopolization claim against Health First, Inc. and three of its wholly-owned subsidiaries —  an insurer, a hospital and a physician practice group.  Essentially, by fully integrating its business, and incentivizing in-network referrals and managed care pricing, Health First became vulnerable to claims of tying, exclusive dealing, price discrimination and monopolization.

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