Like other businesses, New York City health care providers are subject to federal and state anti-trust laws. Compliance with these laws is one of the issues to be vigilant about, whether you are a medical practice that is expanding or a hospital contemplating a merger.
Antitrust laws were designed to prevent anti-competitive business practices such as monopolistic conduct, attempts to create monopolies, and conspiracies in restraint of trade. In 1975, the Supreme Court explicitly stated that federal antitrust laws apply to the ?learned professions? such as medicine.
The Sherman Act is the first and most basic federal antitrust statute. Section 1 of the Sherman Act contains provisions that prohibit contracts, combinations and conspiracies that unreasonably restrain trade; section 2 of the Sherman Act prohibits monopolization, attempts to monopolize and conspiracies to monopolize.
The Clayton Act sets forth specific acts or practices that are considered likely to produce anti-competitive results. One of the prohibitions of the Clayton Act prevents a seller from selling goods of like grade and quality at different prices to competing customers where the price difference may cause competitive injury (both generally and to the seller?s competitors or customers). Other provisions of Clayton Act prohibit exclusive dealing arrangements, tying arrangements and requirements contracts in the sale of goods or commodities where the effect of those arrangements may be substantially to lessen competition.
Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act prohibits unfair methods of competition in commerce, including unfair or deceptive acts or practices such as false or deceptive advertising.
Generally, when a business is accused of violation anti-trust laws, courts will use the individual facts of the case to determine whether a given practice unreasonably restrains trade, although some practices, such as those described above, are considered very likely to constitute an unreasonable restraint on trade.
Antitrust enforcement in health care tends to center on the following types of activities: mergers among hospitals; hospital joint ventures involving high technology or other expensive healthcare equipment; hospital joint ventures involving specialized clinical or other expensive healthcare services; providers? collective provision of non-fee related information to purchasers of healthcare services; providers? collective provision of fee-related information to purchasers of healthcare services; provider participation in exchanges of price and cost information; joint purchasing agreements among healthcare providers; physician network joint ventures.
As can be seen, there are many aspects of managing a health care practice that can be affected by antitrust laws. Our experienced and knowledgeable health care defense attorneys are available for consultation, review of your current business practices, and the structuring of compliance programs that will ensure that your practice does not run afoul of anti-trust laws.
If you are being investigated or prosecuted for anti-trust violations, our highly-skilled attorneys will mount an effective defense strategy on your behalf. Call our experienced NYC?health care license defense?attorneys at?(212) 577-6677 to schedule an immediate consultation.