Nov 15, 2018

N.C. hospital system settles antitrust allegations

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

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 5,495,061 — Total deaths: 346,232 — Total recoveries — 2,231,738Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 1,662,302 — Total deaths: 98,220 — Total recoveries: 379,157 — Total tested: 14,604,942Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 26 mins ago - Politics & Policy

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Countries where novel coronavirus cases are falling may be hit with a "second peak" if they relax restrictions too soon, World Health Organization emergencies chief Mike Ryan warned during a briefing Monday. "We're still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up," he added.

By the numbers: Brazil on Monday recorded for the first time more deaths from the novel coronavirus in a single day than the United States, Reuters notes. Brazil reported 807 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, compared to 620 in the U.S. for the same period.

Palantir CEO reflects on work with ICE

Palantir CEO Alex Karp told "Axios on HBO" that there have "absolutely" been moments he wished the company hadn't taken a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

  • "Did I suffer? ... I've had some of my favorite employees leave," Karp told "Axios on HBO."