Legal Battle Between St. Luke's and Saint Alphonsus Over Physician Acquisition to Begin

The acquisition of a previously independent physician practice by Boise, Idaho-based St. Luke's Health System has sparked a legal battle with regional competitor Saint Alphonsus Health System, also based in Boise. The case will head to trial this week, according to an Idaho Statesman report.

St. Luke's acquisition of the 44-physician Saltzer Medical Group in Nampa, Idaho, caught the attention of the Federal Trade Commission and an antitrust suit was filed in March 2012 to block the deal. According to the complaint, the acquisition of Saltzer would leave St. Luke's with a 60 percent market share and enough bargaining leverage with healthcare plans to raise prices in the region.

Despite the ongoing FTC investigation, St. Luke's moved forward with the acquisition. Saint Alphonsus, along with Treasure Valley Hospital, a small surgical hospital in Boise, filed a similar antitrust suit late last year, claiming the acquisition would give St. Luke's control of more than 65 percent of primary care physicians in the area. This suit was later combined with the FTC's suit against St. Luke's.

A district court judge allowed St. Luke's acquisition of Saltzer to close Dec. 31, 2012, and set a trial date for this week, according to the Statesman.

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