HCA moves to toss antitrust lawsuit

HCA Healthcare is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a group of Western North Carolina residents alleging the Nashville, Tenn.-based hospital operator engaged in anticompetitive tactics that resulted in higher prices.

The lawsuit, filed in August, alleges HCA has an unfair monopoly on Western North Carolina's healthcare market after acquiring Asheville, N.C.-based Mission Health in 2019. 

"Because insurers and consumers in the region have no choice but to use HCA, HCA has free rein to dictate the prices it charges insurers and consumers while at the same time undermining quality to cut costs," the complaint states. 

In its motion to dismiss, HCA argues those bringing the complaint failed to show it "unlawfully acquired or maintained monopoly power." 

The residents are using the lawsuit as an "end-run" around the sale of Mission Health, HCA claims, according to the Citizen Times

"The issue at the heart of the complaint, even if never expressly acknowledged as such, is plaintiffs' dissatisfaction with HCA's acquisition of Mission Health's assets in 2019," a 40-page memo attached to the motion to dismiss reads. "Plaintiffs are attempting to use North Carolina's antitrust laws to attack that acquisition and (perhaps) even unwind it, even though the acquisition was vetted thoroughly and approved by both the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the State of North Carolina." 

Plaintiffs have until Dec. 13 to respond to HCA's motion to dismiss, according to the Citizen Times

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