The Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Justice Department will hold joint hearings on the healthcare marketplace and competition law, covering a range of topics including hospital mergers, the significance of not-for-profit status and vertical integration, FTC Chairman Timothy Muris said today. The hearings will begin in February and continue throughout 2003. Speaking at a healthcare antitrust forum in Chicago, Muris said the FTC continues to see a wide variety of anticompetitive practices in healthcare. He noted that many of the FTC's latest actions involve allegations of physicians and consultants coordinating price fixing under the guise of assisting in negotiations with health plans. The conference was co-sponsored by Modern Healthcare and Modern Physician magazines. Muris also discussed the government's lack of success in challenging hospital mergers in the past eight years and said a new "merger litigation task force" in the FTC's Bureau of Competition should strengthen the government's position in the future. Read Muris' speech online at www.ftc.gov. -- by Mark Taylor
FTC, Justice plan healthcare competition hearings
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