The Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice today announced that their joint hearings on "Health Care and Competition Law and Policy" will begin with three days of hearings on February 26-28, 2003. The hearings on February 26, 2003 will provide an introduction to basic questions about how competition works, or should work to reduce costs and increase quality in health care markets. The hearings on February 27, 2003 will provide an array of perspectives on the health care marketplace and competition law and policy. The hearings on February 28, 2003 will detail market conditions in two health care markets, Boston, MA, and Little Rock, AR, to provide a frame of reference for the balance of the hearings.
The February 2003 hearings will be held in Washington, D.C. at the Federal Trade Commission building at 601 New Jersey Avenue, N.W. The general public and press are invited to attend. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Written comments from interested parties may be submitted to the FTC. Further details, including the identities of specific witnesses for the February 2003 hearings, will be released at a later date.
The February 2003 hearings mark the beginning of an extended examination by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice of the state of the health care marketplace and the role of competition, antitrust enforcement, and consumer protection in satisfying consumer preferences for high-quality, cost-effective health care. The hearings were first announced by FTC Chairman Timothy J. Muris on November 7, 2002, during his keynote address at the 7th Annual Competition in Health Care Forum, held in Chicago, Illinois.
Specific topics that will be covered in subsequent months include hospital mergers, consolidation among health care providers and insurers, the significance of non-profit status, vertical integration among health care providers, monopsony power, quality of care, the boundaries of the state action and Noerr-Pennington doctrines, the adequacy of existing remedies for anticompetitive conduct, and how the Commission could best fulfill its consumer protection mandate with regard to the performance of the health care financing and delivery markets. Further details on subsequent hearings will be released shortly.
FTC and DOJ anticipate holding three to five days of hearings per month between March 2003 and October 2003, exclusive of August 2003. The agencies anticipate that the hearings will culminate with the preparation of a comprehensive joint report.
Information about the Health Care hearings is available at http://www.ftc.gov/ogc/healthcarehearings/index.htm.
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