Idaho antitrust case unintentionally highlights information blocking

A new review of documents from that case by the Idaho Statesman newspaper revealed a fine example of what Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services have dubbed “information blocking”.

A year and a half ago, a federal judge invalidated the purchase of Nampa, Idaho-based Saltzer Medical Group by St. Luke’s Health System in nearby Boise, on antitrust grounds. A new review of documents from that case by the Idaho Statesman newspaper revealed a fine example of what Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services have dubbed “information blocking”.

The documents, which were part of the antitrust lawsuit that St. Luke’s lost last year, show that St. Luke’s tracks its doctors’ referrals and has used technology to make it more of a hassle for doctors to refer outside of St. Luke’s. They also show that [competitor] Saint Alphonsus [Health System] tracks its doctors’ referrals and in 2010 began requiring its employed doctors to refer patients to other Saint Alphonsus providers, with exceptions for insurance coverage, patient preference or quality concerns.

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