Sutter Health reaches surprise settlement in antitrust case

Sutter Health, a 24-hospital system based in Sacramento, Calif., has reached a preliminary agreement in an antitrust case brought by employers and later joined by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo announced the settlement in court Oct. 16, just before opening arguments were slated to begin in the case. Hearings for preliminary approval of the agreement, the details of which are confidential, are expected to occur in February or March, according to the report.

If approved, the settlement will resolve allegations that Sutter Health violated California's antitrust laws by using its market power to overcharge patients and employer-funded health plans. Self-funded employers and union trusts initially filed the case, which was later joined with a lawsuit brought in 2018 by California's attorney general.

The class members alleged Sutter Health's inflated prices led to $756 million in overcharges, according to Bloomberg Law.

Sutter Health has denied the allegations. The system says it used its market power to expand access to care and improve care, according to NPR.

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