Saint Francis sues Hartford Healthcare, claims anti-aggressive methods


Cloe Poisson ::

Saint Francis Clinic key entrance on Woodland Avenue in Hartford.

Saint Francis Clinic and Professional medical Center has sued Hartford Healthcare and its subsidiaries, which include Hartford Medical center, declaring that it is hoping to create a monopoly on clinic solutions by acquiring doctor networks, notably cardiologists, and demanding that they refer their people only to Hartford Health care. 

The 75-site lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court docket in New Haven alleges “a marketing campaign of exclusion, acquisition and intimidation” and statements that Hartford Health care executives have stated in meetings that their prepare was to “crush” or “bury” Saint Francis.

The lawsuit claims that Hartford Healthcare, as it has acquired medical professional methods about the final four several years, has threatened and intimidated physicians who never comply with its “dictates.”

The lawsuit sheds mild on numerous troubles that normally continue to be guiding shut doors but could be aired in a courtroom as the two giants fight a legal battle that could have an impact on the shipping of well being treatment in the Hartford location for years to arrive.  

Late Tuesday night time, Hartford Healthcare officers issued a statement about the lawsuit.

“We feel the complaint submitted by St. Francis Hospital and Healthcare Center is without merit. Hartford Health care denies these allegations and we will vigorously defend towards them. Our concentrate continues to be on serving the wants of our people and our communities in the course of this raging pandemic, as we treatment for a lot more hospitalized COVID-19 sufferers than ever ahead of.”

A spokesperson for Trinity Health of New England, the parent company of St. Francis, issued a statement Tuesday night: “Our best goal is to assure that residents of the better Hartford location have access to wellbeing treatment that is high in high quality with decrease fees.”

Saint Francis is trying to find fiscal damages, a court purchase to divest any health practitioner tactics that Hartford Health care has bought given that 2020 and a long lasting injunction prohibiting what it describes as “anticompetitive carry out.”

Even with furnishing “health treatment that is larger price and lesser quality” than its competition, Hartford Health care — which operates Hartford Medical center — is cornering the marketplace on lucrative operations this sort of as cardiac and orthopedic surgeries by forcing medical doctors to send their people only to Hartford Healthcare hospitals or by acquiring exclusive legal rights to robotic gear — precisely a “Mako” robot utilized in several knee and other bone procedures, the lawsuit alleges. 

The lawsuit also claims that other hospitals in the Hartford region — Manchester Memorial Hospital, the College of Connecticut John Dempsey Medical center and Bristol Hospital — also undergo owing to Hartford HealthCare’s “anticompetitive carry out.”

It also promises that Hartford Healthcare and its community “have interfered with managed care plans’ use of ‘tiered’ networks, which supply employers and customers with an chance to get lower expense, increased excellent health and fitness treatment at a most popular price.”

The lawsuit names 21 physicians whose methods were obtained by Hartford Healthcare over the last 4 decades and nine other individuals who became solely affiliated with Hartford HealthCare’s network, recognized as Integrated Treatment Companions, or ICP. 

Among them is Ulysses Wu, an infectious ailment expert who has spoken to media including CT Mirror about the COVID pandemic. Saint Francis also dropped Muzibul Chowdhury, a cardiologist, to Hartford Healthcare, the lawsuit states. 

“Dr. Chowdhury admitted the most cardiology cases at Saint Francis prior to his acquisition,” the lawsuit states. “Many of these losses are particularly hazardous to Saint Francis, and to competitors, disproportionate to the numbers of doctors misplaced.”

“Hartford HealthCare’s acquisition of the health practitioner tactics of cardiologists is specially unsafe to Saint Francis and Hartford HealthCare’s other clinic rivals. That is for the reason that cardiac and cardiac surgery conditions are amid the most financially rewarding instances for hospitals, and for that reason the loss of these types of conditions is particularly unsafe.”

‘Campaign of intimidation’

The growth of Hartford Healthcare has “been aided by its marketing campaign of intimidation,” the lawsuit goes on to say. “Hartford Health care has informed some medical professionals that if they did not concur to be a part of its follow, that Hartford Healthcare would ‘crush’ them.”

The lawsuit alleges that Hartford Healthcare executives in some conditions “said additional precisely that if the medical doctor did not be part of Hartford Healthcare, that Hartford Healthcare would recruit a medical professional to compete specifically in opposition to that medical doctor. In other circumstances, Hartford Health care has threatened expert doctors with the loss of referrals from its additional than 50 used principal treatment doctors.”

The lawsuit alleges that Hartford Healthcare is violating Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Methods Act and the federal Sherman Act by “unreasonably restrained trade in every single of the pertinent markets.”

It argues that since they have made a monopoly, they are in a position to established bigger selling prices, and overall health treatment plans are pressured to take them mainly because of the hospital’s broad variety of doctors.

“Hartford Health care costs increased rates in element simply because it has higher expenditures than Saint Francis or other hospitals in the region. For instance, even just after adjusting for the complexity of instances, patients at Hartford Clinic stay in the hospital 10% for a longer period than if they are hospitalized at Saint Francis,” the lawsuit states.

“This the two boosts expenses and minimizes high-quality, since longer hospital stays generate a possibility of doable clinic-acquired infections. Clients are also unable to return household as swiftly as they would like. Hartford Healthcare is able to retain its dominant posture in spite of these deficiencies due to the fact of its current market power and its anticompetitive carry out.”

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