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Sutter Health Defeats US Federal Antitrust Suit

 |  March 13, 2022

A jury in a San Francisco federal court on Friday sided with Sutter Health in an antitrust class action that claimed the Northern California health system engaged in anticompetitive behavior that artificially drove up insurance premiums, reported Reuters.

The nine-member jury deliberated for fewer than 10 hours over two days before reaching a verdict on allegations brought by a class of individuals and employers who accused the health system of, among other things, forcing healthcare plans to agree to contracts that prevented them from steering patients to lower cost, non-Sutter hospitals.

James Conforti, the interim president and chief executive officer for Sutter Health, said company leaders were “extremely pleased with the verdict” in Sutter Health’s favor.

“After hearing many hours of testimony from witnesses, insurance plan representatives, provider organizations and experts, the jury found that Sutter Health did not engage in anti-competitive conduct and did not cause consumers to pay higher prices or premiums as plaintiffs alleged,” Conforti said. 

In a statement issued before the case began, Sutter leaders said: “This case is about Sutter’s contracting practices with the 5 largest insurance companies in California. We look forward to telling our story in court and demonstrating that in Northern California’s highly competitive market, Sutter’s integrated healthcare network provides high-quality care that creates efficiencies, drives down total cost of care and benefits the diverse communities we serve.”

The case against Sutter has been compared to an earlier lawsuit involving the same healthcare group, likewise accusing Sutter of imposing all-or-nothing contracts that have forced people to overpay by hundreds of millions of dollars over the years. 

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