10th Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Antitrust Case Against Health Insurer

by Baker Ober Health Law
Contact

Baker Ober Health Law

On May 31, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff's claims in Bristow Endeavor Healthcare v. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association et al., handing Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma, and its co-defendants, a significant victory. 

The action was commenced in 2016 by Bristow Endeavor Healthcare, a northeast Oklahoma health care provider, with Bristow alleging that defendant Health Care Service Corporation (which does business as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma) had denied Bristow's request to add an additional Bristow facility to HCSC's provider network pursuant to an unlawful agreement between HCSC and another healthcare provider, Hillcrest/Ardent. Specifically, Bristow alleged that HCSC and Hillcrest had agreed that HCSC would deny Bristow in-network status to prevent Bristow from competing effectively in northeast Oklahoma, a market in which both Hillcrest and Bristow currently have rival facilities.

At the trial court level, the court ruled that Bristow's claims did not plausibly allege any actionable conspiracy and dismissed Bristow's claims on that basis. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit agreed, explaining that "Hillcrest may have been motivated to undermine Bristow as a direct competitor, but HCSC – a purchaser of healthcare services – would be acting directly against its own interests if it agreed to reduce competition in the health care provider market, particularly in light of Bristow's allegation that HCSC pays Hillcrest higher reimbursement rates." In addition, the Court further noted that the complaint "does not identify any benefit that HCSC obtained from Hillcrest as part of the alleged conspiracy." Accordingly, the Court concluded that Bristow had not pled facts that "tended to exclude the possibility of independent action" by HCSC, rendering Bristow's allegations insufficient as a matter of law.

Finally, while Bristow sought to explain HCSC's conduct by arguing on appeal that HCSC was acting at the behest of Hillcrest to maintain Hillcrest's business, the Court rejected that argument, noting that "the complaint does not contain any particularized allegations permitting an inference that Hillcrest possessed market power such that it could compel HCSC to act against its own interest." Accordingly, the Tenth Circuit found that Bristow had failed adequately to allege a conspiracy as between HCSC and Hillcrest, and affirmed the lower court's dismissal of Bristow's complaint. Absent an appeal to the Supreme Court, the Tenth Circuit's ruling likely brings an end to the litigation.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Baker Ober Health Law | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Baker Ober Health Law
Contact
more
less

Baker Ober Health Law on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.