Lawsuit accuses Optum of anticompetitive practices involving physicians

Covina, Calif.-based health system Emanate Health has filed a lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group's Optum, alleging that Optum participated in anticompetitive practices over physician contracts.

The Nov. 20 suit was filed in federal court in California and accuses Optum of violating antitrust laws and diverting patients away from physicians who left Optum to join Emanate Health by telling employees not to inform patients their provider had changed practices.

The lawsuit also alleges that Optum utilized tactics such as putting unlawful restrictions in physicians' contracts and threatening legal action to intimidate physicians looking to leave the health system, the largest employer of physicians across the country.

"Good faith efforts to resolve these issues with Optum have been rebuffed or met with retaliation," a spokesperson for the system said in a statement shared with Becker's. "We continue to focus our efforts on helping people keep well in body, mind and spirit by providing quality healthcare services in a safe, compassionate environment."

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Optum denied the claims made in the Nov. 20 lawsuit in a statement shared with Becker's, saying that "these are baseless assertions related to a contractual dispute in a highly competitive market, and we will defend ourselves vigorously."

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