Thank you for the timely article on antitrust enforcement in the healthcare industry ("Docs get their way," Jan. 8, p. 40). I'd like to clarify a few points on this important issue.
Despite the implications of the article, the American Medical Association has not pressed its position on antitrust reform for the purpose of chilling effective enforcement by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. The antitrust laws should be enforced fully in all segments of our economy, and we trust the professionals at those federal agencies to do just that.
The AMA seeks healthcare antitrust reform so physician networks are judged by the same enforcement policy applied to joint ventures in other industries. This proposal could hardly be said to call for ineffective enforcement of the law, unless one believes the agencies are failing to do their duty in other industries. For example, we do not oppose a requirement that physician networks be economically integrated. We oppose the uniquely narrow definition of integration that is applied to physician networks.
JAMES S. TODD, M.D.
Executive vice president
American Medical Association, Chicago