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US: Health company loses appeal to arbitrate antitrust claims

 |  November 2, 2015

Sutter Health has lost a key court ruling, opening the door to a trial on claims that the Sacramento-based health system uses its dominance in Northern California to overcharge patients, employers and insurers.

A state appeals court in San Francisco ruled Oct. 27 that Sutter can’t require a union benefits trust to arbitrate its claim that the health system engaged in anti-competitive behavior that cranked up costs for thousands of workers.

United Food and Commercial Workers & Employers Benefit Trust sued Sutter in April 2014, alleging the health system requires health plans, self-funded employers and others to include all Sutter hospitals in its networks, among other provisions. The lawsuit alleges Sutter enforces this policy through contracts that charge higher rates for out-of-network services.

The ruling Tuesday does not address merits of the lawsuit claims — only efforts by Sutter to arbitrate the case.

Full content: Sacramento Business Journal

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