NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Does ObamaCare Run Afoul of Antitrust Laws?

February 14, 2011

The new health care law encourages collaboration by doctors and hospitals for cost savings, but a split has developed as to just how far they can go without running afoul of antitrust laws.  When competitors collaborate, they can produce enormous efficiencies, but they may also be tempted to engage in monopolistic practices.  The risk tends to be greatest in small- and medium-size communities dominated by one or two hospitals or health care systems, says the New York Times

Officials of the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, which normally share responsibility for enforcing antitrust laws, are trying to devise a joint statement explaining how they will evaluate proposed collaborations by doctors and hospitals.

  • The new health care law encourages joint ventures, known as accountable care organizations, in which doctors and hospitals take collective responsibility for the care of Medicare beneficiaries.
  • "The creation and operation of accountable care organizations potentially conflict with the antitrust laws," says J. Thomas Rosch, an antitrust lawyer and member of the Federal Trade Commission.

Source: Robert Pear, "Health Law Provision Raises Antitrust Concerns," New York Times, February 8, 2011.

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