The U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division took its first public action against a healthcare provider in nearly two years, formally charging the 1,100-physician independent practice association Mountain Health Care, Asheville, N.C., with price fixing and in a civil consent decree ordering the IPA to dissolve. The complaint alleged that Mountain Health Care, which negotiated with managed-care companies in western North Carolina on behalf of the physicians, restrained price competition by illegally implementing a uniform fee schedule. U.S. District Court in Asheville must approve the decree. "It's gratifying to see the Justice Department take appropriate action against unintegrated provider systems seeking to collectively negotiate on behalf of their members," said Mark Horoschak of Womble Carlyle, Charlotte, N.C., who represented third parties in the case. Jeff Miles of the Washington office of Ober, Kaker, Grimes & Shriver represented Mountain Health Care. "The organization did not agree with the allegations and thinks it was a procompetitive part of the community," Miles said. -- by Mark Taylor
Justice Department re-enters antitrust enforcement
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