Partners HealthCare, the largest hospital and physician network in the Northeast, is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged anticompetitive behavior after some have questioned how the firm negotiates contracts with health insurers, The Boston Globe reports.
"The letter, obtained by the Globe, said the probe sought to determine whether the practices violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, which bars companies from using their market power to limit trade or artificially raise prices. The parties were told to respond by May 19. In a separate correspondence, the parties were ordered to provide specific information about how Partners negotiates contracts with health insurance carriers and how much its Boston teaching hospitals, including Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, are reimbursed, according to industry executives." Cases such as this one in the past have usually been settled with agreements to change practices or to "strike anti-competitive language from their contracts." A spokesman for Partners said the network has already given similar information to the state attorney general's office, and that the network vies "with other providers in the area's 'highly competitive' health care market" (Weisman and Kowalczyk, 4/29).