SAN FRANCISCO: St. Luke’s Battles Exclusive Contract
San Francisco's St. Luke's Hospital has leveled an antitrust and restraint of trade suit against California Pacific Medical Center in an effort to dissolve a binding contract between 19 doctors at St. Luke's and Brown & Toland Medical Group, which requires the physicians to refer all commercial HMO patients to CPMC or UCSF Stanford Health Care facilities, American Medical News reports. As St. Luke's, which serves primarily Medi-Cal, Medicare and uninsured patients, relies heavily on commercial reimbursements, the contract could sound the hospital's death knell. "This kind of exclusivity ... is very threatening to our being able to say alive as a safety net hospital," said Dr. Marc Snyder, a member of the hospital's board. Dr. Michael Abel, chair and CEO of Brown & Toland, said the group does not intend to break any current contracts, but will "re-evaluate their value upon termination." He also said he supports patient and physician freedom in selecting institutions, and added, "So let the hospitals compete for the doctors and the patients because they do things better or they provide better service" (Foubister, 5/17 issue).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.