The Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee is considering another hearing-the third since April 2002-on the business practices of hospital group purchasing organizations.
Senior-level executives in the GPO industry who are in contact with the subcommittee's staff say the hearing could be held this month or in September after the Senate's summer recess. No date has been set, but there "could be a hearing in mid to late July," said Amanda Flaig, a spokeswoman for Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), the subcommittee's chairman.
A specific agenda hasn't been determined, but the panel will likely focus on "what is the next step for the industry," said Carolyn Hickey, a spokeswoman for the Health Industry Group Purchasing Association, the industry's trade group. Spurred by the subcommittee's ranking minority member, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), the panel has been investigating whether GPOs undermine the market introduction of technologies made by small-device manufacturers.
The subcommittee's scrutiny has spawned several ongoing federal investigations, and, under the threat of statutory regulation, national GPOs have adopted and published codes of business conduct.