SUMMIT-ALTA BATES: Judge Succeeds in Delaying Merger
As expected, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) managed to delay the merger between Alameda County's Summit Medical Center and Alta Bates Medical Center, which is owned by Sutter Health. The San Jose Mercury News reports that the hospitals agreed "to postpone their merger until a judge could be found to replace Senior Judge Samuel Conti, who recused himself from the case because of a scheduling conflict." Lockyer's request to disallow the merger will be heard when a new judge is appointed, likely within a week. A trial could then be held, although the state and the two hospital companies are also expected to begin negotiations. Sutter Health spokesperson Bill Gleeson said, "Obviously, we would like to avoid an expensive court process." The dispute will probably boil down to the court's definition of "relevant market area." In short, Lockyer's office wants to view the market narrowly, considering only western Contra Costa and southern Alameda counties. But a judge, more in line with Sutter's expectations, could choose to consider the larger market of Alameda, San Francisco and Contra Costa counties in their entirety (Walton, 8/12).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.