anticompetitive conduct

In a recent Antitrust Alert, our colleagues Dionne Lomax, Bruce Sokler, Robert Kidwell, and Shawn Skolky discuss the allegations in the consolidated class actions, In re Blue Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litig., the court’s analysis, and its market implications.  In this antitrust case against the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and various individual Blue Plans, a federal court recently ruled that certain allegedly restrictive practices are properly analyzed under the Sherman Act’s per se standard, which deems certain types of agreements inherently unlawful. The court’s April 5 decision, which relied on two Supreme Court decisions from the 1960s and 1970s, runs contrary to a recent growing trend to apply the rule of reason to modern business relationships by analyzing the competitive impact of restrictions and weighing the procompetitive benefits against the potential anticompetitive effects.

 

The antitrust suit against Willis Knighton Medical Center will continue following the denial of its motion to dismiss.  BRFHH Shreveport v. Willis Knighton Med. Ctr., case number 5:15-cv-02057 (W.D. La. Mar. 31, 2016).  The case was filed last July by BRFF Shreveport, a competing healthcare provider, and Vantage Health Plan, a health insurer.  The district court held that plaintiffs had sufficiently pled anticompetitive conduct and injury relating to Willis Knighton’s acquisitions of competing providers.

Plaintiff BRFHH Shreveport is the operator of University Health Hospital in Louisiana.  Plaintiff Vantage specializes in lower-cost HMO coverage.  Defendant Willis Knighton operates four hospitals and six clinics in the Shreveport area.  According to plaintiffs, Willis Knighton’s share of hospital admissions in the Shreveport area is approximately 60% overall, and approximately 75% among commercially insured patients.

Plaintiffs previously sought a preliminary injunction to block the joint venture, which the district court denied.  Willis Knighton then sought to dismiss all claims against it.  Ruling from the bench, the district court previously denied the motion to dismiss on all but one ground—Vantage’s Sherman Act Section 2 claim.  Specifically, Vantage alleged that Willis Knighton’s prior acquisitions of competitors, physician referral practices, and non-compete employment contracts violated Section 2.  That claim was addressed in the district court’s 50-page order. Continue Reading LSU Hospital Operator May Proceed with Antitrust Suit Against Competing Health System

A federal district court denied the Texas Medical Board’s (the Board) motion to dismiss an antitrust suit filed by a telemedicine company (Teladoc), finding that the Board is not entitled to state action immunity because its actions are not actively supervised by the state.  Teladoc, Inc. v. Texas Medical Board, No. 1-15-cv-343 (W.D. Tex Dec. 14, 2015) (order denying motion to dismiss).  As we previously reported, the Board issued an emergency rule in January attempting to amend its telemedicine regulations to mandate a “face-to-face visit or in-person evaluation” prior to a physician issuing a prescription.  The Board then engaged in a formal rulemaking to adopt the amendment in April.  Teladoc won a preliminary injunction in May, temporarily blocking the implementation of the new rule. Continue Reading Antitrust Suit Continues to Stymie New Texas Telemedicine Regulation