Part III Administrative Complaint
An administrative law judge upheld the administrative complaint that charged that the North Texas Specialty Physicians (NTSP), a physician group practicing in Forth Worth, Texas, collectively determined acceptable fees for physician services in negotiating contracts with health insurance plans and other third party payers; thus engaging in horizontal price fixing. On January 14, 2005, NTSP filed a notice of appeal of the initial decision. On December 1, 2005, the Commission issued a unanimous decision upholding the allegations that NTSP negotiated agreements among participating physicians on price and other terms, refused to negotiate with payers except on terms agreed to among its members, and refused to submit payors offers to members if the terms did not satisfy the group’s demands. The Commission concluded that the group’s contracting activities with payors amounts to unlawful horizontal price fixing and that respondent’s efficiency claims were not legitimate and not supported by the evidence.
The respondent appealed the Commission decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. On March 7, 2007, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the appeal by respondents of the Commission's opinion in NTSP. The Court agreed with the Commission that the anticompetitive effects of NTSP’s practices were obvious. Per remand by the Court, the Commission modified one provision of its remedial order, issuing a Final Order in September 2008. On February 28, 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court denied NTSP's petition for review.