Patricia M. Wagner, Chief Privacy Officer and Member of the Firm in the Health Care and Life Sciences and Litigation practices, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in HealthLeaders Media, in “Henry Ford Allegiance ‘Reluctantly’ Settles DOJ Antitrust Suit,” by John Commins.
Following is an excerpt:
Henry Ford Allegiance Health has settled its three-year antitrust fight with state and federal prosecutors, just weeks before the case was set for trial in federal court.
The Department of Justice and the Michigan Attorney General’s office filed suit in 2015, alleging that Henry Ford Allegiance Health and three other health systems in south central Michigan carved up the territory and insulated themselves from competition by agreeing to withhold outreach and marketing in each other’s respective counties.
The three other health systems, Hillsdale Community Health Center; Community Health Center of Branch County in Coldwater; and ProMedica Health System in Toledo, OH, settled their suits two years ago. …
Patricia Wagner, an antitrust attorney with Epstein Becker Green and a disinterested observer, said DOJ is applying more rigorous benchmarks for its consent decrees.
“When you do your annual report you have to document that everybody got their four hours of training and you have to provide the materials that were used in those training sessions. If DOJ asks, you’d have to provide a lot of who had what conversations, and when,” Wagner said. “Instead of just having a general ‘you will comply with this consent order and verify annually that you are doing so,’ it is giving organizations the steps that DOJ thinks they need to take in order to comply with the consent judgements.”
“If I am a CEO of a hospital maybe I am thinking about how to get ahead of this situation. Should I have someone who is responsible for antitrust compliance?” she said. “All hospitals have large compliance programs that are usually focused, as they should be, on fraud and abuse and licensure issues. It seems like a natural evolution to say ‘maybe we should be thinking about including antitrust in that larger compliance program.’”