FTC Approves Final Order Settling Allegationsof Anticompetitive Conduct by Eight Puerto Rico Nephrologists

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Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order settling charges that eight independent nephrologists in Puerto Rico illegally collectively bargained with insurers and refused to treat health plan patients when their price demands were rebuffed.

In agreeing to settle the FTC’s charges, the doctors, who practice independently in Puerto Rico and represent 90 percent of the nephrologists in the island’s southwest region, are barred from jointly negotiating prices, jointly refusing to deal with any insurer, and jointly refusing to treat patients.  The settlement, first announced in February 2013, is the latest example of the FTC’s work to protect U.S. consumers from higher health care costs.

The Commission vote approving the final order and a letter to a member of the public who commented on it was 4-0. The Office of Monopolistic Affairs of the Department of Justice for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico participated in the investigation of this matter, and concurs with the FTC’s issuance of the final order.  (FTC File No. 121-0098; the staff contact is Garry Gibbs, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2767)

The FTC’s Bureau of Competition works with the Bureau of Economics to investigate alleged anticompetitive business practices and, when appropriate, recommends that the Commission take law enforcement action.  To inform the Bureau about particular business practices, call 202-326-3300, send an e-mail to antitrust{at}ftc{dot}gov, or write to the Office of Policy and Coordination, Bureau of Competition, Federal Trade Commission, 601 New Jersey Ave., Room 7117, Washington, DC 20001.  To learn more about the Bureau of Competition, read Competition Counts.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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