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The FTC, together with the Idaho Attorney General, filed a complaint in federal district court seeking to block St. Luke’s Health System, Ltd.’s acquisition of Idaho's largest independent, multi-specialty physician practice group, Saltzer Medical Group P.A. According to the joint complaint, the combination of St. Luke’s and Saltzer would give it the market power to demand higher rates for health care services provided by primary care physicians (PCPs) in Nampa, Idaho and surrounding areas, ultimately leading to higher costs for health care consumers. The federal district court held that the acquisition violated Section 7 of the Clayton Act and the Idaho Competition Act, and ordered St. Luke’s to fully divest itself of Saltzer’s physicians and assets. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court ruling.
FTC Staff Comment To the Ohio State Senate Regarding the Competitive Effects of SB 330 In Increasing Access To Quality Dental Care, Including Its Provisions For Licensing Dental Therapists
OFTACOOP, a Puerto Rico ophthalmologist cooperative, has agreed to settle FTC charges that its actions harmed competition. The complaint charges that OFTACOOP – also known as Cooperativa de Médico Oftalmólogos de Puerto Rico – unlawfully orchestrated an agreement among competing ophthalmologists to refuse to deal with a health plan, MCS Advantage, Inc., and its network administrator, Eye Management of Puerto Rico, LLC. OFTACOOP’s concerted refusal to deal forced MCS to abandon its plan to engage Eye Management to create a lower-cost network of ophthalmologists. MCS was also forced to maintain its then-current reimbursement rates paid to ophthalmologists. According to the complaint, OFTACOOP restrained competition without any justification, in violation of federal antitrust law. The proposed consent order prohibits OFTACOOP from entering into or facilitating agreements between or among ophthalmologists (1) to refuse to deal, or threaten to refuse to deal, with any payor regarding any term, including price terms, or (2) not to deal individually with any payor, or not to deal with any payor other than through OFTACOOP. The order also prohibits information exchanges to facilitate any prohibited conduct, and it bars any attempts to engage in any prohibited conduct. OFTACOOP is also barred from encouraging, suggesting, advising, pressuring, inducing, or trying to induce anyone to engage in any prohibited conduct.
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.
FTC Staff Provides Supplemental Public Comment in Tennessee Opposing Health Systems’ Certificate of Public Advantage Application
FTC Staff Comment To the Delaware Board of Speech/Language Pathologists, Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dispensers Regarding Its Proposed Revisions To Its Telecommunication and Telehealth Regulations
FTC Staff Provides Public Comment and Testimony in Tennessee Opposing Certificate of Public Advantage Application
FTC Staff Submission to the Southwest Virginia Health Authority and Virginia Department of Health Regarding Cooperative Agreement Application of Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System
FTC Staff Comment to the Delaware Board of Dietetics/Nutrition Regarding Its Proposed Telehealth Regulation
FTC Staff Comment: Delaware Occupational Therapy Board Proposal to Expand Access to Telehealth Services Could Benefit Consumers
FTC Staff Comment Before the Delaware Board of Occupational Therapy Concerning its Proposed Telehealth Regulation
FTC Staff Comment to the Department of Veterans Affairs: Proposed Rule Regarding Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
FTC Staff Supports Department of Veterans Affairs Proposed Rule To Grant Full Practice Authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
Dental Practice Software Provider Settles FTC Charges It Misled Customers About Encryption of Patient Data
Keystone Orthopaedic Specialists, LLC, and Orthopaedic Associates of Reading, Ltd., In the Matter of
Keystone Orthopaedic Specialists, LLC, an orthopedic practice formed through a combination of six independent orthopedic practices, agreed to settle charges that the merger substantially reduced competition for orthopedic services in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The complaint also names Orthopaedic Associates, one of the six practices that merged into Keystone in 2011, which was split off from Keystone in 2014. Under the terms of the settlement, Keystone and Orthopaedic Associates are required to obtain prior approval from the Commission before acquiring any interests in each other, before acquiring another orthopedic practice in Berks County, and before hiring or offering membership to an orthopedist who has provided services in Berks County in the past year. The settlement is designed to maintain competition in the relevant market by preserving Orthopaedic Associates’ separation, and allowing health plans to avail themselves of current market conditions by renegotiating existing Keystone contracts.
Two Pennsylvania Orthopedic Practices Settle FTC Charges That Merger Harmed Competition and Inflated Prices
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