The Federal Trade Commission is investigating at least one New Mexico hospital and an independent practice association for possible antitrust violations, local and national sources said.
The FTC has served subpoenas to health plans, physicians and local competitors of 149-bed Eastern New Mexico Medical Center in Roswell, N.M., those sources said.
The FTC has not filed a complaint against either organization.
The hospital is owned by Brentwood-based Community Health Systems, which purchased it in 1998 from the county.
The FTC is looking into whether ENMMC attempted to exclusively contract with local payers to shut out a proposed acute care hospital competitor and has attempted to purchase the practices of local primary care doctors to control the patient referral stream, according to Lauri Rose, administrator of the Center for Ambulatory Surgery & Endoscopy of Southeastern New Mexico in Roswell.
Rose said she received one of the subpoenas.
Rose said the owners of the ASC are planning to break ground later this year on a 26-bed acute care hospital in Roswell that would compete with ENMMC.
She said the FTC sent information requests about the hospital's business practices to her and managed care payers.
The ASC owners include eight physicians and Calisher & Associates, a California ASC management firm and partner in the proposed new acute care hospital.
New Mexico State Sen. Tim Jennings of Roswell confirmed the IPA, Southeastern New Mexico Physicians' IPA, was under FTC investigation. The IPA's Vice President, Lonnie Ray, refused to comment on the FTC investigation.
Richard Robinson, the CEO of Eastern New Mexico Medical Center, said he has not received notice of any FTC investigation and Community Health Systems sources could not be reached for comment at deadline.
FTC sources did not return calls for comment.
Over the past two years, the FTC has filed complaints against 15 IPAs alleging price fixing conduct and signed consent decrees withat least 13 of those.