Southeastern New Mexico Physicians IPA of Roswell, a 68-physician independent practice association, has signed a consent decree settling charges that it "orchestrated agreements . . . to fix prices and to refuse to deal with patients except on collectively agreed-upon terms," the Federal Trade Commission said.
The IPA is among at least four New Mexico physician organizations that have been the subject of FTC investigations, and it is the second of those to resolve price-fixing charges. A 38-physician IPA in Carlsbad settled similar charges in May 2003.
No charges have been announced from previously reported investigations into the business practices of physicians and hospitals in Alamogordo and Farmington.
Although the FTC subpoenaed contract and pricing information about 149-bed Eastern New Mexico Medical Center in Roswell, the hospital was not part of the physician settlement and no charges have been filed against it.
The consent agreement with Southeastern New Mexico Physicians prohibits the group from engaging in anticompetitive behavior and bars two of its employees in particular from negotiating contracts for physicians.
The group said it settled without admitting wrongdoing.