|By Audrey Dutton, The Idaho Statesman|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
U.S. District Judge
"The acquisition was intended by St. Luke's and Saltzer primarily to improve patient outcomes. The Court is convinced that it would have that effect if left intact, and St. Luke's is to be applauded for its efforts to improve the delivery of health care in the
The lawsuit accused St. Luke's of illegally thwarting competition in a way that would drive up prices for medical care in parts of
The health system said, essentially, that its opponents cherry-picked records and made specious arguments to foil a benevolent merger.
Winmill said in his ruling that while it may not have been the goal of the acquisition, it "appears highly likely that health care costs will rise as the combined entity obtains a dominant market position that will enable it to (1) negotiate higher reimbursement rates from health insurance plans that will be passed on to the consumer, and (2) raise rates for ancillary services (like x-rays) to the higher hospital-billing rates."
St. Luke's expects to appeal Winmill's decision, according to a statement from the health system Friday.
"This is a significant victory for the [
* Click here for the Statesman's past coverage of this trial, including live updates from the courtroom.
ACCUSATIONS AGAINST ST. LUKE'S
During a four-week trial last fall, two competing businesses --
Federal and state consumer-protection agencies also sued St. Luke's, saying it broke antitrust laws. The
Lawyers for the government pointed to internal emails and private conversations to suggest St. Luke's officials want to employ doctors to make more money and that Saltzer doctors didn't want to fight St. Luke's for the