The Florida-based Federation of Physicians and Dentists has agreed to
stop coordinating negotiations anywhere in the country, settling a 2005
lawsuit alleging the organization illegally drove up fees on behalf of
120 Cincinnati-area OB/GYNs, according to an antitrust settlement the
Justice Department announced today.
Specifically, the settlement bars the federation from relaying contract
terms between physicians and payers; representing a physician with a
payer; reviewing contracts; communicating with physicians regarding
contracts or terms; and even training physicians about contracts and
negotiating with payers.
The prohibitions don't apply to physicians who belong to recognized
bargaining units affiliated with the federation.
The federation admits no wrongdoing in the settlement, said the
federations executive director, Jack Snedden, who remained combative
about the allegations.
We could no longer fight it economically so we reached this consent
decree, Snedden said. If anyone ought to be embarrassed, it ought to be
the Department of Justice for their disparate treatment under the
antitrust laws. They accuse (physicians) with violating antitrust laws
while they let the insurance industry run rampant with respect to doing
whatever they may so desire without true negotiations with physicians, at
the expense of quality healthcare.
The Justice Department sued the federation, an employee and three
physicians in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati in June 2005. The
physicians settled at the time the complaint was filed.
The federation is an affiliate of the National Union of Hospital and
Health Care Employees, the American Federation of State, County and
Municipal Employees and the AFL-CIO.
The agreement is subject to public comment and court approval. -- by