SUTTER HEALTH: Judge Allows Suit Against UC-Davis To Proceed
Sutter Health Central's lawsuit alleging that UC-Davis Medical Center charges "exorbitant and unconscionable" trauma care rates will proceed, after a state judge yesterday tentatively rejected a bid to have the case dismissed. Attorneys from UC-Davis, who argued that the courts have no jurisdiction over how the medical center sets its rates, will appear at a hearing today to "attempt to persuade" Superior Court Judge John Lewis "that he should overturn his own decision." In his ruling, "Lewis reasoned that if the Legislature intended that local and state agencies have the last word over trauma fees, it would have so stated in the applicable laws." The judge also said Sutter "can seek $1.5 million in compensation for what it says it overpaid during the past two years." Sutter filed suit against UC-Davis in June, contending that "the medical center bills up to three times the rates charged by comparable trauma centers." UC-Davis had previously contended "that its rates were reasonable for a teaching hospital that provides care to a disproportionately high number of indigent patients." Sutter is billed by UC-Davis when patients covered by Sutter-contracted HMOs "are taken to the medical center for trauma care." Sutter attorney Stephen Goff said of yesterday's ruling, "It's very good news for us. Our goal is to have UC-Davis recognize that they are entitled only to the fair value of their services and that they are not immune from challenges" (Griffith/Coronado, Sacramento Bee, 10/9).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.