BSA Provider Network, an independent practice association in Amarillo, Texas, has entered into a consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission to settle allegations that its collective negotiation with insurers illegally raised prices for physician services in the market.
BSA settles FTC antitrust case
The agreement stipulates that BSA, a division of 451-bed Baptist St. Anthony's Health System, does not admit violating the law by settling the matter. The agreement also settles similar allegations brought by the Texas attorney general's office.
Since 2000, according to the FTC, the 900 physician members of the BSA network entered into agreements to fix prices for their services and other terms with payers and collectively negotiated the conditions under which they would deal with payers.
Federal antitrust law prohibits alliances of competing providers from negotiating collectively unless they are financially or clinically integrated to an extent that they produce countervailing benefits for consumers.
Under a consent order that must be approved by the commission after a 30-day comment period, BSA agrees not to negotiate on behalf of physicians—unless as part of qualified risk-sharing or clinically integrated arrangements—or facilitate the exchange of information among members regarding contract terms.
Baptist St. Anthony’s President and CEO Bob Williams said that the hospital received broad inquiries regarding managed care contracts from the FTC and the Texas attorney general in 2008 and didn't learn the specific target of the investigation until late last summer. Williams said BSA’s only intent was to facilitate communication between its members and payers and “speed things along.”
BSA, a for-profit subsidiary, will continue to act as a messenger in a formal and documented manner, he said. "We just agreed to conduct our business in a very detailed way according to the way they tell us," he said.
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