It was the night before Christmas and all through the west, not a physician was conspiring, not even the next. . . On December 24, 2008, the FTC announced settlement of price fixing cases against AllCare IPA, a 500 physician multi-specialty IPA organized as Independent Practice Associates Medical Group, Inc. in Modesto, California, and Boulder Valley Independent Practice Association (BVIPA), a 365 physician multi-specialty IPA organized in Boulder County, Colorado. In the press release, David P. Wales, the Acting Director of the Bureau of Competition, stated:
"When health care providers decide to pursue personal gain through unlawful price-fixing, consumers often are forced to either pay higher prices or forgo vital treatments they can no longer afford. The actions announced today against two separate physician groups should send a strong message that we will not let this conduct stand."
According to the FTC statement, the crux of the case was that the physicians:
(i) did not share risk;
(ii) did not operate integrated clinical programs designed to improve quality of care; and
(iii) did not integrate services.
Copies of the press release and the consent agreements can be obtained at the following link: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2008/12/allcare.shtm