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Atrium Health's main campus in North Carolina. Photo: Atrium Health

Atrium Health, a dominant hospital system based in North Carolina, has agreed to a settlement with the Department of Justice and North Carolina's attorney general that will prohibit the system from imposing anticompetitive terms with health insurers that raise costs for consumers.

The big picture: Atrium Health is not the only hospital system that has used these kinds of "anti-steering" contracts, which attempt to suppress competition from lower-cost providers, and it's worth watching whether the federal government and states take more actions.

Details: Atrium, formerly known as Carolinas HealthCare, has to notify Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Cigna, MedCost and UnitedHealthcare of the terms.

  • Moving forward, Atrium cannot draft contracts that would penalize those insurers for creating narrow networks that exclude Atrium's hospitals and doctors or would prevent insurers from disclosing prices to employers and patients.
  • Atrium also can't dictate how insurers include competing providers in their networks.
  • Atrium does not face any monetary penalties and did not admit any wrongdoing. The system downplayed the contracts as old and said in a statement it was "a champion for patient choice."

Yes, but: The settlement expires after 10 years.

Editor's note: This piece was updated to include Atrium Health's statement.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

CDC says some immunocompromised people can get fourth COVID shot

Photo: Noriko Hayashi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in updated guidelines Tuesday that some immunocompromised people who have received either Pfizer or Moderna's COVID-19 vaccines will be able to get a fourth shot.

Details: People over 18 who are "moderately to severely immunocompromised" and have received three doses of an mRNA vaccine may get a fourth shot (of either the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines) at least six months after getting their third Pfizer or Moderna dose, per the CDC.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden plan expected to include at least $500B for climate

Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House is privately telling lawmakers the climate portion of President Biden's roughly $2 trillion social spending plan is "mostly settled" and will likely cost more than $500 billion, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: A price tag of $500 billion to $555 billion is a huge number and, if it holds, would likely be the single biggest component of the sweeping package. It also isn't far off from the roughly $600 billion proposed when the bill was expected to cost $3.5 trillion.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. presses Gulf countries to help resolve Sudan coup crisis

Jake Sullivan briefs the press. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The Biden administration has asked its partners in the Gulf and elsewhere to press the Sudanese generals who carried out a coup on Monday to release captives including Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and to reinstate the civilian government, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The U.S. has limited influence over coup leader Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and other military leaders, many of whom have close ties to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.