Blue Cross denied appeal in suit alleging it sank $40M hospital deal

In April, a federal judge denied Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island's motion for summary judgment in an antitrust suit filed by Boston-based Steward Health Care. Last week, the judge denied the insurer's request to immediately appeal the April ruling, meaning BCBS of Rhode Island will have to face the antitrust suit, according to Law360.  

Here are five things to know.

1. Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, R.I., filed for receivership in 2008 and spent subsequent years looking for a buyer. In June 2011, Steward announced plans to buy the hospital. Steward backed out of the deal in September 2012 after failing to reach an acceptable agreement with BCBS of Rhode Island.

2. Steward subsequently filed an antitrust suit against BCBS of Rhode Island, claiming the insurer obstructed Steward's attempted $40 million takeover of Landmark Medical Center to keep Steward from entering the Rhode Island market, according to Law360.

3. Steward alleged BCBS of Rhode Island "purposely thwarted Steward's acquisition and planned revitalization of Landmark" by refusing to negotiate in good faith for reasonable reimbursement rates for Landmark and actively conspiring with Providence, R.I.-based Lifespan and Woonsocket, R.I.-based Thundermist Health Center to help block the deal.

4. BCBS of Rhode Island filed a motion for summary judgment in the case in 2017, and U.S. District Judge William E. Smith denied the motion in April. In his opinion, Mr. Smith said Steward has "raised a triable issue as to whether Blue Cross engaged in a predatory refusal to deal by blocking Steward from entry into the Rhode Island healthcare and health insurance markets," according to WPRI. On May 15, the judge denied the insurer's request to appeal his ruling to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

5. Blue Cross spokesperson Gail Carvelli told WPRI the insurer was disappointed by the ruling. "We remain confident, however, that Steward Health Care's claims are without merit, and that we will prevail at trial," said Ms. Carvelli. "We will continue to defend our mission to provide high-quality, affordable health insurance to Rhode Islanders."

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