Mayo Clinic physician accuses the system of antitrust violations

A veteran Mayo Clinic physician has filed multiple antitrust complaints against his employer since 2015 over its moves to create a healthcare monopoly, and his accusations may refuel concerns about changes at the system’s hospital in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

Matthew Kumar, M.D., who has worked at Mayo Clinic for 25 years, filed four complaints over the past two years, three with the Federal Trade Commission and one with the Department of Justice, according to documents obtained by the (Rochester) Post Bulletin.

He recently informed Freeborn County, Minnesota, District Attorney David Walker about the lawsuits and Walker has forwarded the documents to the state’s attorney general and Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn. In the documents, Kumar noted that monopolies can increase healthcare costs and limit patient choice.

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Though Kumar’s first complaint was filed long before Mayo Clinic’s announcement earlier this year that it would transfer inpatient services from its Albert Lea hospital to its Austin, Minnesota, campus, in his letter to Walker, he said the moves were predictable.

"I predicted the current situation that the citizens of Austin and Albert Lea find themselves—reduction or elimination of services, rise in cost of healthcare, loss of choice in treatment options and being forced to seek healthcare far away from home," Kumar wrote, according to the Post Bulletin.

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In a statement submitted to FierceHealthcare, the Mayo Clinic said it was “not previously aware” of antitrust complaints that Kumar or anyone else filed against the system.

“We have not been contacted by either agency or any government official about these complaints specifically, or about any antitrust concerns,” it said. “We are confident that we are in full compliance with corporate governance, antitrust statutes, and all other applicable Minnesota law.”

The Mayo Clinic also noted in its statement that Minnesota AG Lori Swanson said in an interview with the Post Bulletin at the end of August that its Albert Lea plans did not violate antitrust laws, and the system pledged to answer further questions if contacted by state or federal agencies.