Insider Perspective: Antitrust Treatment of Physician Practice Acquisitions

The Decision in Saint Alphonsus, et al v. St. Luke's, et al

Date: Thursday, February 13, 2014

Time: 1:00 – 2:00 pm ET 

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Peter Herrick, Senior Trial Counsel, Federal Trade Commission

David Ettinger, Partner, Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn LLP

Stephanie Westermeier, General Counsel, Saint Alphonsus Health System

Nancy Hawkins, Head of Service, Practical Law Antitrust


Hospital acquisitions of physician practice groups are coming under the microscope.  The first cases to address the antitrust implications of these acquisitions are Saint Alphonsus, et al v. St. Luke’s, et al and Federal Trade Commission, et al v. St. Luke's, et al, before the US District Court for the District of Idaho.  The court recently issued its decision in favor of the plaintiffs, confirming the legal framework for assessing future physician group acquisitions.

Join Practical Law and Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn LLP for a 60-minute discussion with counsel and parties to this landmark case.  Presenting a thorough analysis of the case and decision are Peter Herrick, counsel for the FTC, David Ettinger, counsel for Saint Alphonsus, and Stephanie Westermeier, General Counsel for Saint Alphonsus. 

The presenters will review:

  • The principal arguments advanced by the plaintiffs.
  • The circumstances behind the private lawsuit against St. Luke’s.
  • The determination of relevant market and competitive effects in physician group acquisitions.
  • The treatment of the “Health Care Reform” defense in antitrust cases.

Additionally, the presenters will address the implications of the decision for potential merging parties in health care as well as for hospitals and physician groups who may be harmed by such transactions. 

Case Background:

Two government parties, the Federal Trade Commission and the Idaho Attorney General, and two private plaintiffs, Saint Alphonsus Health System and Treasure Valley Hospital, filed separate complaints objecting to St. Luke's Health System's acquisition of Saltzer Medical Group P.A., Idaho's largest independent physician practice group.  The Court found that the acquisition would create a single dominant health care provider with an almost 80% market share for adult primary care physician services sold to commercial health plans in the Nampa, Idaho area.

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