War of words: Carepoint Health files suit against RWJBH

Carepoint says RWJBH tried to force it into insolvency; RWJBH calls suit ‘baseless’

Carepoint Health accused RWJBarnabas Health of participating in “a years-long systemic effort” to destroy competition in northern New Jersey in an effort to monopolize the hospital and related health care services, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday afternoon.

According to the suit, Carepoint accuses RWJBH of particularly targeting Hudson County, where Carepoint operates its three hospitals: Christ Hospital in Jersey City, Bayonne Medical Center and Hoboken University Medical Center.

The suit said RWJ conspired with others to force CarePoint “into insolvency” and that it aimed to shut down Christ Hospital and Bayonne Medical Center — and acquire Hoboken University Medical Center, which Carepoint said has the most favorable payor mix. This would come at the expense of local residents, the suit said.

“RWJ’s goal explicitly disregarded the needs of the poor, underinsured and charity care patients which CarePoint serves in its role as the safety-net hospital system in Jersey City and surrounding areas,” the suit said.

An RWJBH spokesperson called the suit “baseless.”

“This is yet another in a series of baseless complaints filed by CarePoint, an organization whose leadership apparently prefers to assign blame to others rather than accept responsibility for the unsatisfactory results of their own poor business decisions and actions over the years,” the spokesperson said.

“RWJBarnabas Health has a longstanding commitment to serve the residents of Hudson County and is proud of the significant investments we have made in technology, facilities and clinical teams as we advance our mission.”

RWJBH is one of the state’s two largest health systems, with a service area covering eight counties with 5 million people. The system includes 12 acute care hospitals, three acute care children’s hospitals, Children’s Specialized Hospital, and hundreds of other health care facilities. It also is among the state’s largest private employers — with more than 38,000 employees and 9,000 physicians.

The RWJBH system provides more care for underserved communities than any other system in the state.

The suit was filed by Dilworth Paxson, a Philadelphia-based firm that also has offices in Cherry Hill and Princeton as well as New York City.

The suit asks for relief from the court under the Federal Antitrust Laws and the New Jersey Antitrust Act.

Read the suit below.