For Your Information: January 24, 1997
The Federal Trade Commission today announced the following actions.
Consent agreements given final approval: Following a public comment period, the Commission has made final a consent agreement with the following entity. The Commission action makes the consent order binding on the respondent.
- The consent agreement with Montana Associated Physicians, Inc. (MAPI) and Billings Physician Hospital Alliance, Inc. (BHPA), both based in Billings, Montana, settles charges that these physician organizations obstructed the entry of managed care plans in Billings, agreed on prices that they would accept from third-party payers, and otherwise acted to thwart cost-containment measures. The order bars MAPI and BHPA from entering or attempting to enter into any agreement with physicians to (1) negotiate or refuse to deal with any third-party payer; (2) determine the terms on which physicians deal with such payers; (3) fix the fees charged for any physician’s services. The order also bars MAPI from advising physicians to raise, maintain or otherwise adjust the fees charged for their medical services, or encouraging adherence to any fee schedule for physician’s services. The order contains specific provisions allowing the firms to operate or participate in legitimate joint ventures. (See Oct. 23, 1996 news release for more details regarding the consent order; Docket No. C-3704; Commission vote on Jan. 13 to issue the orders as final was 5-0, with Commissioner Mary L. Azcuenaga issuing a concurring statement in which she observed that "the complaint and order do not directly challenge the organization and conduct of [BPHA] as a physician hospital organization (PHO), and in my view, this order should cast no shadow on the activities of PHOs." She added, "this negotiated order is not, and should not be viewed as, a guide for what a PHO can and cannot do.") Staff contact is Robert F. Leibenluft, 202-327-2756.
- The consent agreement with Computer Business Services, Inc. (CBSI) settling charges that the firm’s home-based computer business opportunity ad claims about potential earnings and profits were false and misleading. Sheridan, Indiana-based CBSI and three principals will pay $5 million in consumer redress and are barred from misrepresenting the earnings or success rate of investors; the existence of a market for their products or services; the amount of time it would take investors to recoup their investments and from making any representation about the performance, benefits, efficacy or success rate of any product or service unless they possess reliable evidence to substantiate the claims. The settlement also prohibits the use of misleading testimonials or endorsements and requires that ads for automatic telephone dialing systems disclose federal restrictions on their use. (See Aug. 14, 1996 news release for more details regarding the consent order; Docket No. C-3705; Commission vote to issue the order as final was 5-0.)
Copies of the documents referenced above are available from the FTC’s Public Reference Branch, Room 130, at the same address; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC’s World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov
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