SUMMIT-ALTA BATES: Lockyer Makes Final Attempt to Block Merger
In a final attempt to dissolve the merger between the Berkeley-based Alta Bates Medical Center and the Oakland-based Summit Medical Center, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) yesterday asked the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to review the appeal that let the merger proceed, the Contra Costa Times reports. Lockyer has argued that the merger will drive up health care costs in the East Bay area. Last month U.S. District Court Judge Maxine Chesney denied Lockyer's motion to block the merger, deciding that the market area affected by the deal included Contra Costa, Alameda and San Francisco counties, a broader area than Lockyer suggested (McMillan, 1/28). According to the California Nurses Association, Sutter Health, which owns the merged Summit-Alta Bates and 25 other hospitals, will control 67% of East Bay hospital patients. Defending the new motion, Lockyer said, "The reason we filed the case in the first place is because the prices for medical services in the East Bay will go up if this merger concludes." Sutter was "disappointed" by Lockyer's actions. Spokesperson Bill Gleeson said, "This will result in the unnecessary waste of substantial limited resources. We've moved ahead with the affiliation and the merger ... and we think all parties should move on" (Delgado, San Francisco Examiner, 1/28). He added that without the merger, Summit would not have been able to survive financially. However, Lockyer contended that Summit was never in "as dire a financial position as it has implied" (Contra Costa Times, 1/28). The appeal should be resolved within a few months, and Lockyer said that if the motion is denied, he will accept that ruling (San Francisco Examiner, 1/28).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.