Part 2 Consents
The FTC's order requires CentraCare Health, a healthcare provider in St. Cloud, Minnesota, to release some physicians from “non-compete” contract clauses, allowing them to join competing practices, under a settlement mitigating likely anticompetitive effects from CentraCare’s proposed merger with St. Cloud Medical Group (“SCMG”). CentraCare Health, a non-profit health system in central Minnesota, also includes a multi-specialty physician practice group. SCMG is a physician-owned, multi-specialty practice group that operates four clinics in and around St. Cloud. According to the FTC, CentraCare’s planned acquisition of SCMG would combine the two largest providers of adult primary care, pediatric, and OB/GYN services in the St. Cloud area. By eliminating SCMG as a potential alternative in the St. Cloud area, the acquisition would likely increase CentraCare’s bargaining power vis-à-vis commercial health plans, allowing it to raise reimbursement rates and secure more favorable terms, the complaint states. However, SCMG was failing financially, and a number of physicians had already left the practice. SCMG’s multi-year search did not identify an alternative purchaser to CentraCare for the entire group, but at least one local provider has expressed interest in expanding its practice by hiring some of SCMG’s physicians. The consent order permitted the acquisition to proceed, but lessened its potential anticompetitive effects by requiring CentraCare to allow a number of adult primary care, pediatric, and OB/GYN physicians to leave the health system and work for other local providers or establish a new practice in the area and to provide certain financial incentives to a number of departing physicians.