by Kristy Kepley-Steward, WLOS
BREVARD — The City of Brevard announced Friday that it is suing HCA Healthcare for allegedly “engaged in a scheme to monopolize health care markets in seven counties in Western North Carolina: Buncombe, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Transylvania and Yancey.”
The lawsuit alleges HCA engaged in a series of predatory tactics designed to impede competition between health care providers. As a result, Brevard, its citizens, and others throughout Western North Carolina have paid inflated prices for lower-quality health care, the suit claims.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges HCA’s actions have harmed the city and area residents by making charges to charity care, performing and billing for unnecessary procedures, causing the loss of physicians and providers from the HCA system and reducing the availability of appointments for health care services.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction prohibiting HCA from further monopolistic conduct and monetary relief to compensate Brevard and the other health plans that overpaid for health care for its employees and their families.
Brevard Mayor Maureen Copelof said, “Our lawsuit is being brought at a time when providing affordable health care insurance plans for working families and governmental employees, such as firefighters, police and teachers, and controlling health care costs have been top priorities for the city of Brevard and members of the class, and the business communities they serve.”
Mayor Copelof continued by noting that “as elected leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure the health and well-being of our community.
“Accessible and affordable health care is a major component of that healthy community. Over the past few years, our community has repeatedly expressed concerns over the degradation of health services, the difficulty in obtaining services, and the high cost of these services. Our attempts to address these concerns directly with HCA have been rebuffed.”
“The monopolistic practices employed by HCA in this case have harmed the City of Brevard and its citizens through artificially inflated health care payments, lowered quality of care, and the continued loss of medical providers in our county and region,” Brevard Mayor Pro Tem Gary Daniel added.
“We hope that this lawsuit will begin to compensate us for overpaying for health care, and bring an end to the harm HCA has caused to Brevard and other communities in Western North Carolina.”