Ten cardiologists in the Reno, Nev., area already are taking advantage of a first-of-its-kind settlement between Renown Health and the Federal Trade Commission that allowed the doctors to void their noncompete agreements and go to work for competitors.
The five-member FTC formally voted on Tuesday to approve a a previously announced settlement of a complaint the commission brought against Renown Health alleging that the three-hospital system had likely established an illegal monopoly in heart-care services. Between 2010 and 2011, Renown bought Sierra Nevada Cardiology Associates and Reno Heart Physicians, whose 31 doctors gave Renown control over 88% of the market for cardiology, the FTC said.
Rather than ordering Renown to unwind the deals, the FTC voted 5-0 on Tuesday (PDF) to order the health system to allow as many as 10 of its cardiologists to disregard language in employment contracts forbidding them from working for competitors. Although Renown did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement, the FTC said voiding 10 noncompete agreements would restore competition for cardiology in the Reno metro area.
Dan Davis, spokesman for the system, said Wednesday that eight physicians have already notified Renown that they intend to go to work for other area hospitals, and two others are planning to move into private practice.
Jim Miller, president and CEO of Renown Health, said the system stands by its acquisition decisions, which were designed to keep physicians in the local community and improve patient care.