Anesthesiologist files 4 antitrust complaints against Mayo Clinic

Matthew Kumar, MD, has filed four antitrust complaints since 2015 against his longtime employer, Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic Health System, according to the Post Bulletin.

Dr. Kumar is the anesthesiology department chair at Mayo Clinic's Albert Lea, Minn., and Austin, Minn., locations and has been employed with the system for 25 years, according to the report. His whistleblower complaints are just now coming to light because he contacted a Freeborn County attorney who forwarded them to the state attorney general and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), who is running for governor of Minnesota, according to report.

Dr. Kumar filed the first report with the Justice Department and filed the subsequent three with the Federal Trade Commission. "It is already a dictum within MCHS that one conforms to the orders from [Mayo Clinic] or they will be fired: 'Mayo way, or the highway,'" reads his first complaint, filed in 2015, according to the Post Bulletin.

Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Health System had not previously heard of the complaints filed by Dr. Kumar or any antitrust complaints filed in the past two years, Mayo Clinic spokesperson Ginger Plumbo said in an emailed statement to Becker's. "We have not been contacted by either agency or any government official about these complaints specifically, or about any anti-trust concerns," the statement reads. "We are confident that we are in full compliance with corporate governance, anti-trust statutes, and all other applicable Minnesota law."

In his August letter to Freeborn Attorney David Walker, Dr. Kumar notes Mayo Clinic is the only healthcare provider in 72 adjoining communities. "I predicted the current situation that the citizens of Austin and Albert Lea find themselves — reduction or elimination of services, rise in cost of healthcare, loss of choice in treatment options, and being forced to seek healthcare far away from home," Dr. Kumar wrote, according to the report.

The Post Bulletin has published all four complaints in full, noting "the contents may further inflame citizens and local officials," and "could breathe new life into concerns about possible antitrust violations at the Albert Lea site."

Mayo Clinic announced plans in June to consolidate inpatient services between the Albert Lea and Austin facilities. After an investigation into the consolidation plan, Attorney General Lori Swanson decided Aug. 21 the consolidation plan did not violate antitrust laws, allowing Mayo Clinic to move forward with the plan, according to the report. "If the Attorney General has any additional questions for us, we will respond accordingly," Ms. Plumbo said in a statement.

Changes are slated to begin Oct. 1.

Read the full story here.

Editor's note: This story was updated on September 8 at 8:30 a.m. CT to include the statement from Mayo Clinic.


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