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Hospice Provider Sues Washington State

SEATTLE (CN) - The Washington State Department of Health adopted rules that illegally prevent hospice care providers from entering the market, Odyssey Healthcare says in a federal antitrust complaint.

Odyssey, which operates in 29 states, says the state decided that a hospice care center needs an average of 35 daily patients to be financially feasible. Odyssey does not contest that. But it says the state sends out surveys to established hospice centers, but does not require them to fill out the surveys or return them. Nor does the state impose any sanction for failing to return the surveys, or filling them out with incomplete or inaccurate data.

Odyssey says that if a hospice fails to return a survey, or returns it with incomplete data, "the Department fills in the missing data for that hospice agency with either zeros or with a number based on the Department's average or estimate for the hospice agencies' missing data."

Odyssey claims that this "absurd" process "produce(s) a substantially smaller need for additional hospice agencies than actually exists if all survey forms were fully and accurately completed."

Odyssey seeks declaratory relief and punitive damages.

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