BOISE, Idaho (AP) — St. Luke's Health System is moving forward with a plan to purchase Saltzer Medical Group despite concerns by Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden the deal could run afoul of federal and state laws intended to prevent monopolies that reduce competition.
Health system spokesman Ken Dey said the company can't wait any longer to pursue the buyout, but will give the Federal Trade Commission and Wasden's office 30 days' notice before the deal closes to they can evaluate it.
"It really wasn't prudent for us to delay our plans indefinitely," Dey told the Idaho Statesman (http://bit.ly/Px4ffB). "It's kind of a compromise, we hope, and they seem to be fine with it."
The FTC and Idaho attorney general's office earlier this year started an investigation into whether St. Luke's Health System had violated federal antitrust laws and Idaho's Competition Act.
Wasden in a February letter noted the health system's possible purchase of the Saltzer Medical Group as a complicating factor.
"Having one more large acquisition in the mix complicates matters and would result in additional ... expense for all parties involved," Wasden wrote.
The health system said it would put the Saltzer deal on hold for 90 days, which ended June 7.
Wasden and the FTC declined to comment.
Saltzer spokeswoman Janet Miller said the relationship between Saltzer and the health system could take different forms, including through a contractual arrangement rather than an outright sale.
"I don't think it's been completely decided exactly how it's going to look," Miller said. "We're all kind of wondering what's happening next."
The newspaper reports that St. Luke's has about 6,300 employees in southwestern Idaho. It has 358 doctors on its payroll in Idaho and Oregon, up from about 300 a year ago. Another 813 doctors have privileges and contracts to practice at St. Luke's hospitals and clinics.
Dey said most doctors approach S. Luke's looking to join the staff, and it doesn't usually pursue doctors unless they are in a high-demand specialty.
Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com