BOISE, Idaho – St. Luke’s Health System is disappointed by the ruling from U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill denying a stay of his previous decision ordering full divestiture of its integration with Saltzer Medical Group.
St. Luke’s is currently considering the judge’s order planning to seek a stay from the appellate court. The order does not give a timeline as to when St. Luke’s must complete its divestiture of Saltzer Medical Group. All efforts will be made to complete the divestiture process in a thoughtful and orderly manner to limit the disruption to employees and patients.
On June 12, St. Luke’s filed an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking reversal of Judge Winmill’s Jan. 24 ruling ordering divestiture of Saltzer.
St. Luke’s is committed to reducing health care costs while providing better coordination of care, increased access for all patients and better outcomes. In its appeal, St. Luke’s contends that Judge Winmill erred in concluding that St. Luke’s acquisition of Saltzer Medical Group would cause substantial anticompetitive effects, while dismissing the substantial procompetitive benefits the District Court believed would have resulted if the acquisition were to stand.
Since St. Luke’s acquisition of Saltzer Medical Group, residents of Canyon County have had greater access to care. Saltzer’s affiliation with St. Luke’s, Idaho’s only locally-owned not-for-profit hospital, has allowed Saltzer to provide services to more low-income and Medicaid and Medicare patients than they were able to provide as a private physician group because of the low reimbursements provided for these federal and state programs.
That point was recognized by America’s Essential Hospitals, an organization that filed a brief with the Ninth Circuit on Thursday, June 19 in support of reversing the District Court’s decision in this case.
The organization said if Judge Winmill’s ruling is allowed to stand it would have a “chilling effect” by deterring hospitals from pursuing tighter integrations with physician groups as a strategy to improve access to high-quality care for vulnerable populations.
The organization concluded that “courts should take access for vulnerable populations into account when deciding antitrust cases, or access to care for millions of vulnerable Americans will be threatened and inequities in care for vulnerable populations will be exacerbated.”
To read the full brief from America’s Essential Hospitals, click here.
To read Judge Winmill's order denying the stay, click here.
St. Luke’s remains optimistic that the Ninth Circuit will recognize the value of the affiliation with Saltzer and overturn the District Court’s ruling.
But in the event that doesn’t occur, St. Luke’s remains committed to working collaboratively with Saltzer to deliver high quality, low-cost care to the patients we serve.
Ken Dey served as Public Relations Coordinator at St. Luke's from 2008-2014.