A new physician network is rising in Billings, Mont., out of the ashes of a previous physician-hospital organization that got burned in an antitrust case.
Last week, the Federal Trade Commission gave antitrust clearance to a group of about 40 physicians who want to form a new for-profit company called Yellowstone Physicians to jointly pursue managed-care service contracts.
Some of the physicians were participants in a PHO that settled antitrust charges with the FTC last fall. The FTC accused the PHO, called the Billings Physician Hospital Alliance, of restraining competition among physicians and fixing prices for physician services. Under the settlement, the participating providers agreed to restructure their operation to comply with federal antitrust laws.
David Meany, Yellowstone's antitrust attorney, declined to say how many of Yellowstone's physicians also are or were members of the Montana Associated Physicians, which created the PHO in 1991 with Saint Vincent Hospital and Health Center in Billings.
Meany said Yellowstone's goal is to expand to about 100 physicians, which would represent no more than 39% of the physicians practicing in the Billings market. When Montana Associated Physicians was created in 1987, it represented about 80% of the solo practitioners in the market who weren't affiliated with the 140-physician Billings Clinic, a large multispecialty physician practice. Membership in Yellowstone will be nonexclusive.