HOUSTON (CN) - Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, Unicare and United Healthcare illegally boycotted a new hospital and forced it to close just months after it opened because a competitor threatened the insurers with "severe economic consequences" if they granted the new place preferred-provider status, the former Houston Town & Country Hospital says in a $100 million state antitrust complaint.
Stealth LP fka Houston Town & Country Hospital, says Memorial Hermann Hospital System coerced the five insurance giants to join in the boycott.
"Memorial Hermann saw Town and Country Hospital as a threat to its market dominance in the West Houston market," according to the complaint in Harris County Court. "Memorial Hermann decided the best way to eliminate Town and Country Hospital was to convince the major health insurers in the Houston area to deny 'preferred provider' status to Town and Country Hospital."
Memorial Hermann - which is not named as a defendant - coordinated the boycott by letting each insurer know which company had agreed to the boycott, and which ones would be "financially punished" for refusing to join in, Stealth LP claims.
"Within months, the boycott was successful, and Town and Country Hospital went out of business, thereby depriving patients and doctors of quality health care options that West Houston's growing population needs," Stealth LP claims. "Collectively, the five health insurers have caused damages that may exceed $100,000,000."
Stealth LP is represented by Rusty Hardin.