Judge: St. Luke's Antitrust Case "One of the Most Difficult" He's Heard

The judge hearing the antitrust case involving Boise, Idaho-based St. Luke's Health System has called it "undoubtedly one of the most difficult" trials he's presided over, according to a Idaho Statesman report.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill also said he usually leans one way or another by the end of a trial, but not this time. He will likely come to a conclusion on the case as he is writing his decision, according to the report.

The Federal Trade Commission, the Idaho Attorney General's office, Saint Alphonsus Health System and Treasure Valley Hospital in Boise are challenging St. Luke's 2012 acquisition of a medical group. The healthcare providers filed suit first, but their suit was consolidated in March with that of the FTC and Idaho AG.

The FTC has claimed St. Luke's acquisition of 44-physician Saltzer Medical Group in Nampa, Idaho, would leave St. Luke's with roughly 60 percent of market share for primary care physicians in the Nampa area.

Judge Winmill raised some questions last week that highlighted the tensions within the case: Is St. Luke's acquisition of Saltzer Medical Group, which was previously Idaho's largest independent practice, necessary for St. Luke's to achieve its stated goal of integrated healthcare? Is the transaction so critical that the buyout should be allowed, even if it increases St. Luke's market share for Nampa's primary care eight times as much as what's presumed illegal under federal guidelines?

Judge Winmill is expected to reach a decision sometime in the next few weeks.

More Articles on St. Luke's and the FTC:

Testimony Ends in St. Luke's Antitrust Case
Motion Filed to Open Court Proceedings in St. Luke's Antitrust Case
FTC Sues St. Luke's Health in Idaho Over Physician Group Acquisition

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