An independent practice association affiliated with Memorial Hermann Health System, Houston, will cease certain negotiating practices under a consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC said the 3,000-member IPA, Memorial Hermann Health Network Providers (MHHNP), ran afoul of antitrust law by negotiating nonrisk contracts, refusing to forward payer offers that didn't meet minimum fees and discouraging or prohibiting members from contracting directly with payers. The physicians' organization said it admitted no wrongdoing in the consent agreement and will pay no penalties. "We believe we were operating within the law," MHHNP President Jim Waldron said. "MHHNP made business decisions in what was a confusing area of federal law. However, the FTC has offered some clarification and as a result we have altered our business models." In recent months, the FTC has issued about 15 consent agreements involving price-fixing allegations against physicians' organizations. -- by Mark Taylor
Houston IPA settles price-fixing charges by FTC
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