At the heart of the lawsuit—filed in 2014 by a group of self-funded employers and joined by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in 2018—are allegations that Sutter abused its market power to raise prices for employers and insurers.
The lawsuits, which were consolidated for purposes of a trial in San Francisco Superior Court, accuse the Sacramento nonprofit of engaging in contracting practices with health insurers and employers that prevented them from offering patients lower-cost options. One central claim is that Sutter imposed what’s known as “all or nothing” contracting terms, compelling insurers and employers to contract with all Sutter hospitals, or none at all. This practice prevents insurers and employers from negotiating with individual hospitals on prices.
“There is robust competition in Northern California, and Sutter Health looks forward to demonstrating in court why its integrated care model promotes competition and, most importantly, benefits patients and communities,” Sutter spokeswoman Amy Thoma Tan said in a statement.
The case is one of the first antitrust suits brought by a state attorney general against a major health care provider, and it comes amid growing frustration among patients over the rising cost of health care.
Full Content: San Francisco Chronicle
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