Mayo doctor raises concern about antitrust violations

Published 8:39 am Friday, September 8, 2017

ALBERT LEA — A doctor’s complaints may bring new life to concerns about antitrust violations at the Mayo Clinic in southern Minnesota.

Dr. Matthew Kumar chairs the Department of Anesthesiology at Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea and Austin. Kumar recently told Freeborn County Attorney David Walker that he has filed four antitrust complaints against his employer since 2015, the Post-Bulletin reported.

Three of the complaints were filed with the Federal Trade Commission, and the other complaint was sent to the U.S. Department of Justice. One complaint says Mayo Clinic is a health care monopoly that has eliminated competition in more than 70 communities in the Midwest.

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Walker has forwarded Kumar’s complaints to Attorney General Lori Swanson and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz. Walker previously asked officials to look into antitrust concerns relating to Mayo Clinic’s plans to move some services from its Albert Lea facility to its Austin location.

Mayo Clinic spokeswoman Ginger Plumbo said government officials haven’t contacted the hospital system and that hospital officials remain confident that they’re in compliance with federal and state law.

“Mayo Clinic and Mayo Clinic Health System were not previously aware of any antitrust complaints having been filed with the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission over the past two years, including the complaints reportedly filed by Dr. Kumar,” she said.

Walz said Freeborn County has requested help in making inquiries with federal agencies that may have jurisdiction over Mayo Clinic’s service reduction decision. Walz said he’s reviewing the request.

The Mayo Clinic said $13 million in losses over the past two years, staffing issues and a reduced demand for a full-service hospital have led to the consolidation of services.