Florida hospital hits Health First with antitrust lawsuit for trying to monopolize cancer care market

Titusville, Fla.-based Parrish Medical Center has filed a lawsuit against Rockledge, Fla.-based Health First, claiming the company committed antitrust violations by trying to monopolize a cancer care market, according to a Law360 report.

The lawsuit, filed in Circuit Court in Brevard County, aims to block Health First from acquiring Space Coast Cancer Center, which operates three Brevard County locations.

Parrish alleges that the acquisition would result in Health First, which owns four hospitals and sells health insurance policies in central Florida, employing two of the three radiation oncologists and six of the nine medical oncologists practicing in north Brevard County, according to the report.  

"After the closing of the acquisition, then, there is a dangerously high probability that [Health First] will have a monopoly of the markets for medical oncology physician services and radiation oncology physician services in north Brevard County," the complaint states.

Along with blocking the deal, Parrish is seeking to invalidate any exclusive dealing arrangements between medical or radiation oncologists and Health First.

In a statement issued to Becker's Hospital Review on Tuesday, Matthew Gerrell, vice president of marketing and communications at Health First, took issue with Parrish's leader.

"It is Health First's desire to resolve any differences with Parrish Medical Center President and CEO George Mikitarian and work together for the betterment of our community. However, Mr. Mikitarian has ignored our request to meet and continues to provide partial information in this lawsuit, which is a distraction to our dedicated and caring associates who are focused on the health and well-being of Brevard County," said Mr. Gerrel.

This isn't the first time Health First has faced these types of allegations. The complaint filed by Parrish Medical Center joins at least two other lawsuits targeting allegedly anti-competitive business practices by Health First, according to Law360.

More articles on healthcare industry lawsuits:

Merger mania may spread from health insurers to hospital operators
Humana hit with investor class-action lawsuit over Aetna deal
Louisiana hospital hit with antitrust lawsuit by competitor

Editor's note: This story was updated September 2 to include Health First's statement.

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