Steward at odds with physician group over payments

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Steward Health Care System has been sued by a physician group it acquired. (Getty/eccolo74)

A partnership between Steward Health Care System and Compass Medical PC has turned ugly, with the sides at odds over millions in business payments.

Compass, a medical group based in southern Massachusetts, has accused the health system of failing to pay bonuses to its doctors and rents for equipment and office space, according to an article from the Boston Globe. It has sued for more than $20 million in damages.

Jamie Barber, Compass’ CEO, said that the group has worked for over two years to secure the missing payments. Steward, which owns nine hospitals in the state, has threatened to respond with its own lawsuit and has accused Compass of engaging in “deceptive financial practices” at the system’s expense, according to the article.

RELATED: Financial turnaround: Most hospitals acquired by Steward Health now in the black

Compass was originally affiliated with Partners HealthCare System before switching to Steward in 2012. Steward was, at the time, a relatively young system looking to swipe physician groups from its competitors. It now includes more than 3,500 doctors.

In its suit, Compass alleged that Steward promised payments at fair market value but failed to provide additional information as to what that means. Steward’s lawyer, however, refuted those claims and detailed an “egregious pattern of greed” on Compass’ part.

“They were well paid,” Herbert L. Holtz told the publication. “They received an enormous amount of money. It’s ridiculous for them to now comport and claim that they were shorted.”

Barber rejected those allegations.

Despite the potential foibles of the relationship, physician practices are increasingly aligning with or being bought by hospitals and health systems. A quarter of practices are now hospital owned, as FierceHealthcare has reported.