6/4/09 “Messenger model” IPA busted!

By Dennis Hursh | Medical practice

Oct 21
The FTC today announced that it has entered into a consent agreement with Alta Bates Medical Group, Inc., a 600-physician multi-specialty IPA serving Berkeley and Oakland, California, to settle charges that Alta Bates fixed prices charged to health care insurers and refused to deal with insurers on other than a collective basis.  According to the FTC, the IPA did not employ a lawful messenger model, but instead collectively negotiated on behalf of its physicians (1) by making proposals and counter-proposals, as well as rejecting or accepting offers, without consulting with its individual physician members regarding the prices they unilaterally would accept; and (2) without transmitting the payors’ offers to its individual physicians until Alta Bates had approved the negotiated prices.  In addition, the complaint alleged that Alta Bates engaged in a concerted refusal to deal to impede competition with Permanente Medical Group by refusing to serve Kaiser fee-for-service enrollees. 
  
Materials regarding this consent are available at http://www.ftc.gov/os/caselist/0510260/index.shtm
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I am a healthcare attorney with over 34 years of experience, focusing on physician contracts, regulatory compliance and sales of medical practices.

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