Sutter Health to Pay $575 Million in Antitrust Settlement

December 23, 2019 | Eric D. Fader | Antitrust | Hospitals | Litigation | Private Insurers

Sutter Health, a northern California health system, will pay $575 million to settle allegations that it violated federal antitrust laws. The settlement comes on the heels of Sutter’s recent $45 million settlement of alleged Stark Law violations, as discussed here.

Under the preliminary settlement, which is pending court approval, Sutter will be required to reform its contracting practices, eliminate anticompetitive bundling of services, and stop denying patients access to cheaper health plans. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, “We think this settlement helps address some of the anticompetitive activities we saw in the Northern California healthcare market.” A monitor appointed by the Attorney General will oversee Sutter’s antitrust compliance for a minimum of 10 years.

The settlement arose out of multiple lawsuits which accused Sutter of engaging in unlawful, anticompetitive business practices that drove up healthcare costs. Sutter will be required to limit its charges for out-of-network services and to allow insurers, employers and self-funded plans to give their members pricing, quality and cost information to make better care decisions. Those customers will no longer have to include all of Sutter’s facilities and products in their networks or pay Sutter bundled prices for more services than they need.

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