FTC Issues Order Modifying North Texas Specialty Physicians Opinion

On January 20, 2006, the FTC issued an Order Modifying Opinion of the Commission ("Order"), that modified its November 29, 2005 Opinion of the Commission ("Opinion") in the Matter of North Texas Specialty Physicians ("NTSP"). The FTC determined in NTSP, that a physician network had engaged in unlawful horizontal price fixing in its contracting activities.

In the Order, issued in response to Complaint Counsel's December 20, 2005 Petition for Clarification of Certain Statements in the Commission Opinion, the FTC expressed its belief that the Opinion was not subject to the potential misinterpretations asserted in the Petition. Nevertheless, the FTC in the Order made four modifications to the Opinion, clarifying its position that (1) the determination that NTSP misused the messenger model stems from a "comprehensive assessment" of its conduct, especially its use of a prospective price poll, and does not imply that a physician network's failure to transmit all payor offers is always an antitrust violation, and (2) a single organization is considered a combination of its members, capable of violating antitrust laws by an unreasonable restraint of trade, when it is "controlled by a group of competitors and serves as their agent."

A copy of the Order and the (revised) Opinion are available at this link.

For additional information regarding this Antitrust Development, please contact Toby G. Singer, leader of the Health Care Antitrust Practice.

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