Statement on Sutter Health Settlement Announced by California Attorney General Becerra

This landmark settlement provides real reforms that may mean Northern California consumers get some relief from high health prices due to Sutter Health’s practices.
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For immediate release: Friday, December 20, 2019

For more information, contact:
Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, 916-870-4782 (cell)
Rachel Linn Gish, director of communications, Health Access California, 916-532-2128 (cell)

STATEMENT ON SUTTER HEALTH SETTLEMENT ANNOUNCED BY CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL BECERRA

SACRAMENTO, CA – Below is a statement from Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition, responding to the announced settlement between California Attorney General Becerra and Sutter Health regarding unfair competition in Northern California.

“This landmark settlement provides real reforms that may mean Northern California consumers get some relief from high health prices due to Sutter Health’s practices. Northern Californians typically are charged $3,000 more for coverage than consumers in Los Angeles in part because of Sutter Health’s concentrated power, as well as their anti-competitive practices and contract provisions. This settlement begins to attack the reason why inpatient rates are 70% higher in Northern California than in the rest of the state.”

“Beyond the financial payments, these settlement provisions prevent Sutter, the largest hospital system in Northern California, from using and abusing its market power to inflate prices. No longer will Sutter be able to bundle its services, or require all-of-nothing contracting deals, that increase premiums for all of us. We want providers to compete based on lower price and higher quality, not because they happen to be bundled with other must-have hospitals.”

“We are excited about the agreement to limit out-of-network charges, helping prevent inflated surprise medical bills, which might jump-start the stalled negotiations in Congress and the state Capitol. We will continue to work on surprise medical bills, hospital concentration, and health care prices in the new year.”

“This landmark lawsuit sends a strong signal to hospital chains across the nation. With this settlement, health care providers will think twice about duplicating Sutter Health’s tactics. We appreciate Attorney General Xavier Becerra leading union and business purchasers in taking on this major fight on the righteous cause of addressing health care consolidation and rising costs. Bigger is often not better for consumers, whether we are talking about hospital chains or health plans or physician groups. Health care consumers need continued action against this trend that can lead to health care monopolies, less competition, and ever-increasing health prices.”

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