DOJ sues Michigan hospitals for alleged antitrust violations

The Department of Justice sued four Michigan hospital systems Thursday, alleging that for years the systems had unlawfully allocated marketing territories to limit competition.

The complaint was filed against the following organizations: Hillsdale (Mich.) Community Health Center; Community Health Center of Branch County in Coldwater, Mich.; ProMedica Health System in Toledo, Ohio; and W.A. Foote Memorial Hospital in Jackson, Mich., doing business as Allegiance Health. With the exception of Allegiance, all of the organizations have agreed to settle with the government.

The government alleges Hillsdale curtailed competition by entering into agreements with Allegiance, Community Health Center of Branch County, and two of ProMedica's facilities — Bixby Hospital in Adrian, Mich., and Herrick Hospital in Tecumseh, Mich. — that limited marketing of competing healthcare services.

"Instead of putting patients first, these hospitals secretly agreed not to compete," said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.

The DOJ settlements terminate the agreements the organizations had in place and prohibit Hillsdale, Community Health Center of Branch County and ProMedica from agreeing with other healthcare providers to limit marketing or to divide any geographic market or territory, according to the DOJ.

The government will continue to pursue its claims against Allegiance.

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