- Associated Press - Thursday, July 16, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A federal judge has ordered a Boise-area hospital to disclose its separation plan from Idaho’s largest independent physician’s practice.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s decision comes nearly a year after St. Luke’s Health System was ordered to undo its acquisition of the Nampa-based Saltzer Medical Group. Winmill ruled that the buyout violated antitrust laws.

Saint Alphonsus Health System and Treasure Valley Hospital sued the two parties in 2012, arguing that the buyout would result in St. Luke’s dominating the primary-care market in the Nampa area.

In June, the Idaho Attorney General’s office and Federal Trade Commission filed a motion claiming St. Luke’s was divesting only a fraction of Saltzer and not completely complying with Winmill’s judgment.

The two offices argued that St. Luke’s was keeping many of Saltzer’s services and releasing only a portion of the company. They also argued that St. Luke’s needed to prove it tried to find a buyer for Saltzer.

St. Luke’s and Saltzer officials countered that untangling the buyout was complicated and asked the judge to appoint a “master” to oversee the separation. They said that three prior attempts to sell Saltzer to a third party had failed, but those attempts would be burdensome and irrelevant to prove in court.

“Obviously, defendants are contemplating something other than a full divestiture, and plaintiffs object,” Winmill wrote in his Monday decision, denying St. Luke’s request.

In his decision, Winmill called back to a previous promise St. Luke’s made in 2012 assuring the court their deal could easily be unwound.

“At the very beginning of this litigation, defendants represented to the court that if the merger was allowed to proceed, the court could take ‘some comfort’ in their promise that ‘if the transaction is unlawful, we will not oppose the divestiture’ because ‘(h)ere it would be quite possible to unscramble this egg,’” Winmill wrote.

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