HCA Healthcare has asked the court to throw out an antitrust lawsuit filed against them by residents of North Carolina alleging the Nashville-based health system was abusing monopoly power they adopted with the acquisition of Mission Health in 2019.
In court filings last week, HCA leadership characterized the legal action as dissatisfied residents “attempting to use North Carolina’s antitrust laws to attack that acquisition and (perhaps) even unwind it,” according to the Citizen Times, who first reported the lawsuit and HCA's motion to dismiss.
The putative class-action contends HCA sought the deal to run an “unregulated monopoly” in Western North Carolina which has ultimately resulted in increases to insurance premiums in the region. The initial complaint concedes the alleged monopoly has existed since 1995, when Mission merged with the only other provider in the region, St. Joseph’s Hospital — but says the then-nonprofit health system was protected under a Certificate of Public Advantage, shielding it from liability.
HCA’s $1.4 billion acquisition of Mission Health has not gone on quietly. The transaction was vetted — and ultimately approved — by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the State of North Carolina. The state’s Attorney General, Josh Stein, appointed an independent monitor (Nashville-based Gibbins Advisors) to oversee the health system’s commitments to the community while in transition. Multiple doctors initially left the health system and nurses organized a rally in protest of HCA’s profits.
Since then, Gibbins has released findings that HCA has been compliant with its promises and nurses have inked a deal with with the health system that includes a 7 percent raise.