The Federal Trade Commission settled price-fixing allegations against a 1,500-member physician group affiliated with Washington University, St. Louis. The July 11 consent decree prohibits Washington University Physician Network, a 10-year-old independent practice association, from negotiating agreements between its physician members and health plans. The decree comes just days after the FTC brought price-fixing charges against another major physician group, Brown and Toland Medical Group, San Francisco. Brown and Toland, however, plans to contest the allegations in court rather than accept a consent degree. The FTC said that the Washington University network negotiated contracts on behalf of members who otherwise would be competitors. The FTC alleged that the contracts were negotiated without sufficient clinical integration among physicians or demonstrated efficiencies, both of which might have protected the IPA from antitrust violations. The complaint is the 10th price-fixing case the FTC has filed against physician groups in the past 20 months. All but the Brown and Toland case were settled by simultaneous consent decrees. -- by Mark Taylor
St. Louis doctors settle price-fixing charges
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