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Lawsuit claims Health First monopoly

A scathing lawsuit was just filed against the company that runs two well-known Brevard County hospitals: Holmes Regional Medical Center and Palm Bay Hospital.
A scathing lawsuit was just filed against the company that runs two well-known Brevard County hospitals: Holmes Regional Medical Center and Palm Bay Hospital.
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Updated: 10/12/2013 10:51 am
BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. (WFTV) -- A scathing lawsuit was just filed against the company that runs two well-known Brevard County hospitals: Holmes Regional Medical Center and Palm Bay Hospital.

The suit alleges Health First has maintained a monopoly by intimidating physicians or otherwise obstructing their ability to practice medicine in southern Brevard County if they do not play ball with Health First and refer their patients exclusively to Heath First's hospitals.

"If a doctor, for example, would not refer a patient to a Health Firsthospital then they could be retaliated against by being excluded from the Health First plan," attorney Tucker Byrd said. 

Tucker Byrd represents Omni Healthcare and a group of doctors.

They claim unfair competition and threatening tactics by Health First because it controls hospitals, doctors and health care plans as one.

Byrd said this has caused economic loses for some physicians.

"Ultimately you have some doctors whose practices have been decimated as a result of this," Byrd said. 

He claims this hurts people in Brevard County as well.

"If the prices are going up and the quality is going down and the choices are being eliminated , the person who ultimately loses is the typical patient," Byrd said. 

Health First said: There are those in the health services industry that do not believe its model is the right model as they have profited from the historic model of healthcare.

Full statement from Matthew Gerrell, vice president, Marketing & Communications:

"Many health delivery networks across the country are revolutionizing the way that health services are delivered. Health First is focused on keeping those we serve healthy, so that their needs for our hospital services will be less and they can continue a healthy, active lifestyle. This is in contradiction to the historic model of health services, which is only paid on a fee-for-service arrangement, meaning the more that is done to a patient, the more money is made.

"A true integrated delivery network must have health insurance, physicians, hospitals and outpatient services all working together for the health of the patient, ensuring they receive the right care, at the right place and at the right time. 

There are those in the health services industry that do not believe this is the right model, as they have profited from the historic model of healthcare. The allegations in the referenced lawsuit are several years old and have already been heard by a judge who declined to take any action. We believe that when all of the facts are shown in an impartial court of law, it will be proven that Health First is putting the best interests of the communities we serve over those that wish to continue with the outdated fee-for-service healthcare model."
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