AUGUSTA (AP) – The state attorney general’s office has settled an anti-trust lawsuit against the Maine Health Alliance.

The state had claimed that the health care consortium and its members entered into questionable pricing policies that effectively ignored the benefits of competitive pricing.

Under Maine law, competing health care providers can reach pricing agreements under certain conditions if there’s a “real potential to increase the quality of care and reduce cost,” said Assistant Attorney General Christina Moylan.

But such agreements are allowed only if they are likely to achieve such benefits, Moylan said. In this case, the alliance’s collective-pricing agreements failed to meet the legal threshold, state officials said.

The order settling the lawsuit, approved in Superior Court, calls on the alliance to avoid future violations.

Members of the alliance include St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor and hospitals in Calais, Caribou, Machias, Houlton, Dover-Foxcroft, Millinocket, Bar Harbor, Fort Kent, Lincoln and Ellsworth.

While rural health-care delivery sometimes lends itself to group pricing, this wasn’t a case that justified “activities that would be condemned as anti-competitive in other sectors of our economy,” said Attorney General Steven Rowe.

AP-ES-07-06-03 1042EDT

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