Brown and Toland Medical Group, San Francisco, after initially vowing to fight the Federal Trade Commission, has settled the agency's charges of price-fixing and other antitrust violations. The 1,545-physician group signed a consent decree prohibiting it from negotiating with payers on behalf of physicians or setting contract terms for physicians without further clinical or financial integration. The settlement also terminates existing contracts negotiated illegally. Brown & Toland formed a PPO in 2001 and began negotiating on behalf of 600 physician members. In a complaint filed last year, the FTC said illegal behavior on the part of Brown & Toland had raised physician prices in the San Francisco area. The multi-specialty group vowed to fight the charges, saying it "firmly believes it has followed the FTC's own guidelines, and strongly disagrees with the allegations." Brown & Toland Chief Executive Officer Gloria Austin said the group is moving toward clinical integration, and the settlement allows it to offer a PPO. "It is clear that we are well on the way to addressing the issues raised by the complaint," Austin said. The settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing, she said. The FTC has accused at least 14 physician organizations of price-fixing since 2002 and has reached consent decrees with 13 of those groups, said John Wiegand, an antitrust lawyer in the FTC's San Francisco office. -- by Mark Taylor
Calif. doctors' group settles price-fixing case
Send us a letter
Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.