Trillium Community Health Plan filed a federal lawsuit on Oct. 24 against Oregon Health & Science University, Legacy Health and Providence Health & Services, alleging that the "big three," as the lawsuit calls them, colluded to "illegally" block Trillium from competing to serve Oregon Health Plan members in the tri-county area.
"The Big Three have collusively agreed to refuse to contract their hospital and physician networks with Trillium," says the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Portland and first reported by The Portland Business Journal.
OHSU, Legacy and Providence are partners in Health Share, a coordinated care organization that serves all of the Oregon Health Plan's Medicaid patients in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties.
Earlier this year, the state began a process of renewing the CCO program, which provides healthcare to low-income Oregonians. Currently, the tri-county is served by just one CCO, Health Share. Trillium, which operates in Lane County, and is owned by Centene, a publicly-traded provider based in Missouri, decided it wanted to compete with Health Share.
But in its lawsuit, Trillium says the big three Portland providers, each of which operates hospitals and extensive systems of clinics, would not play ball.
"Since at least February 2019, the Big Three have collusively agreed to refuse to contract their hospital and physician networks with Trillium," the lawsuit says. Proof of the Big Three's illegal agreement to exclude Trillium includes their similar responses to Trillium, along with their statements against individual interest conceding their collective focus on supporting Health Share."
The defendants in the lawsuit don't think much of it.
"We are reviewing the litigation," says Providence spokesman Gary Walker. "We believe it is baseless, and the claims made in the lawsuit are not accurate. We look forward to resolving this through the legal process."
"While it is Legacy Health's practice not to comment on pending legal matters or litigation, we strongly disagree with the assertions made by the Centene Corporation," says Brian Terrett, a Legacy spokesman. "We look forward to letting the legal process occur in the appropriate venue."
"Although OHSU cannot comment on specific allegations, we have, and continue to negotiate in good faith with all who endeavor to contract/affiliate with us and remain dedicated to serving the Medicaid population of Oregon," adds OHSU spokeswoman Tamara Hargens-Bradley.