Trinity Health is facing possible losses of millions of dollars per month as a cautionary tale unfolds which highlights the high stakes in the relationship between Health Systems and their anesthesia providers. Anesthesia Associates of Ann Arbor (A4), which is the exclusive provider for six Trinity hospitals, terminated contracts with Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan, Aetna and Priority Health and pursued litigation against the payers. According to an article written in Modern Healthcare, in response to the groups actions, the rate disputes have caused Anesthesia Associates to be dropped from the networks of the insurers, and Trinity is alleging that the actions of the group will drive patients to other hospitals to seek surgical care. Trinity claims that the group is in violation of state and federal antitrust laws and is in breach of their contract, which requires that they be in-network with these insurers at all times. These rate disputes could cost Trinity millions of dollars each month in lost revenue and increase the out-of-pocket costs for patients, leading them to seek care elsewhere. The health system claims that their main concern is that their patients receive quality and safe care without incurring additional costs. Trinity aims to establish liability for all financial losses due to declines in hospital patients with their lawsuit against Anesthesia Associates.
Not to be outdone, as Trinity attempted to recruit and potentially employ the groups’ anesthesiologists and anesthetists, A4 countersued, alleging the health system ignored its exclusive contract obligations and valid non-compete agreements by improperly attempting to poach and hire away physicians. In a press release issued by A4, they celebrated a temporary restraining order they were awarded in the case. Trinity is therefore barred from contacting any of the A4 providers in an attempt to employ them.
The anesthesia services contract is set to expire in September, leaving a bit of time for more legal maneuvering by both parties to determine the future of their severely damaged relationship.