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US: DOJ files antitrust case against St. Mary’s over marketing plan

 |  April 17, 2016

The Department of Justice sued Charleston Area Medical Center and St. Mary’s Medical Center for unlawfully agreeing to allocate territories for the marketing of healthcare services.

Allocating territories for the marketing of healthcare services is a practice that deprives consumers of the benefits of access to important information about competing healthcare providers, according to the DOJ press release.

The department filed the civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, while simultaneously filing a proposed settlement that, if approved by the court, would resolve the lawsuit. It was filed on April 14.

One way that hospitals compete to attract patients is by marketing their healthcare services, including through print advertisements, such as newspaper advertisements, and outdoor advertisements, such as billboards, according to the suit.

Advertising also spurs hospitals to compete for patients by investing in providing better care and a broader range of services.

The DOJ claims CAMC and St. Mary’s curtailed competition for years by agreeing to geographic limits on the marketing of competing healthcare services.

Full Content: Becker’s Hospital Review

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