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Court Ruling a Blow for the Health of Idaho

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
January 24, 2014

I am writing to you with surprising and disappointing news. Judge B. Lynn Winmill has ruled in the antitrust litigation, and he has ruled against us and our partners, the Saltzer Medical Group. 

Our leaders, our boards, our employees, and our supporters know that St. Luke’s and Saltzer have been trying to do the right things for the right reasons to bring accountable care to the people of Canyon County. 

The evidence presented by our attorneys told our story well and demonstrated that St. Luke’s was, and is, pursuing innovation and putting the best thinking of providers and public policy experts to use to truly improve health care for the people of Idaho. Even the court acknowledged that it was "convinced" that the transaction would improve health care if left intact, and said St. Luke's was to be "complimented on their foresight and vision" for its efforts to improve the delivery of health care in the Treasure Valley. 

"The Acquisition was intended by St. Luke's and Saltzer primarily to improve patient outcomes," the judge wrote in his decision. "The Court is convinced that it would have that effect if left intact ..."

While this news is disappointing, our job and our journey remain the same. We must continue the hard work of changing the way health care is delivered. We know that the people of Idaho want and deserve better health, better coordinated care resulting in better outcomes, and healthcare providers to take accountability for these outcomes, including the cost of the care. 

The court’s decision calls into question whether accountable care can be an option for the people of Idaho, and specifically those who live in towns like Nampa and Caldwell. We must expend the additional effort and resources necessary to ensure that these residents have a choice when it comes to their health care and hospital providers, though it will undoubtedly be more challenging and take us longer to achieve.

Though our job is made more difficult by this decision, and though our competitors have, in the near term, achieved their goal of slowing our progress, our commitment and determination is not diminished. 

Thank you to our board members, who have been steadfastly dedicated to offering the best health care at the lowest cost to our communities. I admire and respect the Saltzer Medical Group for having the courage to stand up and fight for what is right against the significant resources of the federal and state governments, Treasure Valley Hospital, and the Trinity Health System. Thank you to our leadership teams, physician partners, and staff members, who have remained committed to our vision. And a special thanks to all the attorneys who so expertly and ably represented St. Luke’s and Saltzer. 

We will review the judge’s findings and conclusions and anticipate appealing the decision. In the meantime, we will determine how we can work with Saltzer going forward to best serve the people of the Treasure Valley. 

Thank you for all you do for St. Luke’s and our patients, and remain focused on your why. In the long run, winning or losing this case is not the measure of our success; the measure of our success is the extent to which we improve the health of the communities we serve, provide patients with the best possible outcomes and lower the cost of care for the people of Idaho.

 

About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.