The Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee vowed to continue its yearlong oversight of the group purchasing industry at a hearing this morning. Although the industry has made much progress in adopting ethical standards, it is less clear and harder to measure whether GPO business practices have changed sufficiently to open the market to innovative technologies, the subcommittee said. A report by the General Accounting Office on seven national GPOs, released concurrently with this morning's hearing, similarly concluded that it is too soon to evaluate the effectiveness of the various codes of conduct adopted by GPOs in the past year. Meanwhile, ranking minority member Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) said he will ask HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson to consider regulations to make permanent the voluntary GPO reforms of the past year and to appoint a GPO oversight officer. Kohl said he also would ask HHS to strengthen and revise its regulations governing the Medicare safe harbor that allows GPOs to collect administrative fees from suppliers. -- by Cinda Becker
Senate panel vows to continue monitoring GPOs
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