Amicus Brief

Amicus brief of ICLE & Economics and Medicaid Defense Fund, Reversal, St. Alphonsus Medical Center et al. v. St. Lukes Health System, LTC, 9th Circuit


“Section 7 of the Clayton Act and analogous state laws are designed to halt in their incipiency transactions that, on balance, have a substantial likelihood of interfering with the effective functioning of the marketplace and thereby causing consumer harm. Courts and the antitrust enforcement agencies, however, have a limited ability to predict the ultimate competitive outcome of transactions that hold forth a reasonable possibility of yielding substantial consumer benefits. An approach that is too interventionist will have the perverse effect of restricting innovation and efforts that are likely to produce great efficiencies and consumer benefits. Judge Kozinski has cautioned that “judicial intervention in a competitive situation can itself upset the balance of market forces, bringing about the very ills the antitrust laws were meant to prevent.” United States v. Syufy Enters., 903 F.2d 659, 663 (9th Cir. 1991).

In this case, the lower court’s decision runs counter to this Court’s prescient admonition. By imposing liability, the court created an obstacle to efficient integration of the delivery of healthcare that is central to efforts to lower healthcare costs, obtain better results, and facilitate access by underserved consumers. The transaction is part of a growing national trend aimed at moving to a value-based, patient-oriented model of care to effectuate better and higher quality healthcare service. Yet because of the trial court’s narrow and incorrect view of the law, much of these essential efforts at improving healthcare are placed under a cloud of antitrust condemnation…”