The Federal Trade Commission settled price-fixing allegations with two San Diego County anesthesiology groups, alleging that they conspired to fix fees and terms for on-call contracts with 414-bed Grossmont Hospital, La Mesa, Calif., between February 2001 and May 2002. The groups, 180-physician Anesthesia Service Medical Group and 10-physician Grossmont Anesthesia Services Medical Group, agreed to cease the anticompetitive agreements and accepted a 20-year consent order barring them from jointly negotiating or fixing fees, dealing or refusing to deal with payers or providers, and threatening to reduce anesthesia services. The groups make up about 75% of the hospital's anesthesiologists. They allegedly conspired to set a stipend for taking on-call assignments for obstetrics and discussed reducing on-call hours to increase negotiating clout. At deadline, all parties were unavailable for comment. The FTC has finalized at least five other price-fixing settlements with physician groups in the past 18 months. -- by Mark Taylor
Calif. anesthesiologists settle price-fixing case
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