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Report: Harris looking into consolidation by hospitals, doctor groups

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Sep 17, 2012

Harris

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Kamala Harris is reportedly investigating whether increased consolidation by hospitals and doctor groups is upping medical care prices.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Harris' office has issued subpoenas, or civil investigative demands, to "several big hospital operators" in California.

Some of them include San Francisco-based Dignity Health, San Diego's Scripps Health and Sharp HealthCare, Northern California's Sutter Health and Santa Barbara-based Cottage Health System, according to the Journal.

Subpoenas also have been sent to major health insurers in the state, the newspaper reported.

Sources told the Journal that the attorney general's concern is whether consolidation is increasing prices in a way that violates antitrust law.

The newspaper pointed to the number of hospital deals last year: 86.

That is the biggest since 2000, according to research firm Irving Levin Associates.

Dignity Health, formerly Catholic Healthcare West, confirmed to the Journal that it received a subpoena from Harris' office, as did Scripps and Sharp.

Scripps told the newspaper it is "cooperating" with the attorney general's request, and Sharp said it has "provided documents in response."

Meanwhile, Sutter said it comments "only on matters of public record."

A Cottage Health System spokeswoman also said she could not provide any information.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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