FTC Staff: Connecticut Should Reject Health Care Arrangements That Would Harm Competition and Consumers

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Federal Trade Commission staff submitted a comment, in response to a request from Connecticut General Assembly Members Catherine Osten and Peter Tercyak, regarding a proposed state law that would let Connecticut physicians jointly negotiate reimbursement rates with health plans.

The proposed law would allow the creation of “health care collaboratives” of otherwise independent health care practitioners that could jointly negotiate prices and other terms with health plans.  The proposed law also would seek to immunize such joint negotiations from scrutiny under the antitrust laws.

The staff comment stated that the antitrust laws are not a barrier to the formation of efficient health care collaborations that benefit health care consumers.  The comment also explained that the proposed law would very likely benefit only participating physicians, who seek to enhance their bargaining power in selling their services, while harming health care competition and health care consumers in Connecticut.  In particular, the “attempt to confer antitrust immunity is unnecessary for legitimate collaborations and, if effective, would encourage groups of private health care providers to engage in blatantly anticompetitive conduct.”

The Commission vote approving the comments was 4-0.  (FTC File No. V130009; the staff contact is Daniel J. Gilman, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-3136).

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