FTC Approves Final Order Settling Charges that Merger of Orthopedic Practices in Berks County, Pennsylvania Would Likely Harm Competition and Inflate Prices

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Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final order settling charges that a merger combining 76 percent of the orthopedists in Berks County, PA into Keystone Orthopaedic Specialists, LLC was likely anticompetitive and violated U.S. antitrust law.

The complaint also named Orthopaedic Associates, one of the six practices that merged into Keystone in 2011.  The practice and six of its associates split off from Keystone in 2014, and has become a major player in the market.

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.

Keystone and Orthopaedic Associates also are prohibited from anticompetitive, illegal activity such as coordinating their prices with other orthopedists in the market and jointly negotiating with or refusing to deal with payors. They also must terminate, without penalty, any existing contracts with payors for the provision of orthopedic physician services at the payors’ request.

The Commission vote approving the final order was 4-0. (FTC File No. 141 0025; the staff contact is Robert Canterman, Bureau of Competition, 202-326- 2701)

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