As reported by Law360 (subscription), on November 8, 2022, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein filed an amicus brief urging a federal court to move forward with an antitrust class action against HCA Healthcare/Mission Health alleging the hospital giant is abusing its market power to prevent insurers from offering patients financial incentives to use lower cost or higher quality services offered by competitors.

The lawsuit, brought by Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel on behalf of consumer plaintiffs, alleges that HCA Healthcare and Mission Health have restricted competition in their respective health care markets, substantially and artificially inflating health care prices paid by plaintiffs and the proposed class member health plans. The complaint states that Mission Health’s illegal practices have allowed it to reduce competition and keep its reimbursement rates to insurers higher than they otherwise would be, causing patients to pay significantly more for health insurance.

The State Attorney General’s amicus brief was filed on behalf of several cities and counties with self-funded health insurance plans that claim Mission Health improperly eliminated lower-cost consumer options. Mission Health’s parent company, HCA Healthcare Inc., and its former owner ANC Healthcare Inc. have sought to have the suit dismissed, arguing “[such] restraints are actually good for consumers.”

Attorney General Stein noted Tuesday, however, that the companies’ responses to the accusations were “lacking.”

“Accepting Mission Health’s argument would allow large hospital systems — the number of which is ever increasing — to evade scrutiny based on little more than their own self-interested assessment of the effects of their practices on competition,” Stein noted in the amicus brief.

Read the full article on the Law360 (subscription) website.

Learn more about the Mission Health Antitrust case here.

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