Chicago Physician Competition Attorney
The healthcare market poses unique competitive challenges for physicians. Frustrated by an increasing lack of control working within large, bureaucratic hospitals, many doctors have turned to physician-owned surgery centers, also known as ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) to provide more affordable, high-quality patient care. ASCs and other physician-driven business models have the potential to radically alter the competitive landscape for health care in Illinois and throughout the country.
Of course, existing hospitals are not about to go down without a fight. With billions of dollars at stake, many hospitals are content to play hardball with ASCs and other emerging physician-owned competitors. While such competition can be healthy and benefit consumers, in many cases hospitals resort to anti-competitive acts that run afoul of federal antitrust laws.
At the Law Offices of George M. Sanders, P.C., we can help your ASC or physician-owned practice identify and address anticompetitive threats from established hospitals. Our skilled Chicago physician competition attorneys have over 20 years of experience in distinguishing legitimate competition from anticompetitive conduct. We will ensure that you are able to compete fairly in the marketplace.
What Constitutes “Anticompetitive” Conduct in Health Care?
The Sherman Act is the primary federal antitrust law. Section 1 of the Sherman Act prohibits “unreasonable” restraints of trade that affect interstate commerce. For example, a group of competitors cannot agree to fix prices or implement a joint boycott in order to keep their prices artificially high. In the healthcare market, federal antitrust regulators often use the Sherman Act to go after competing physicians who attempt to jointly negotiate contracts with third-party payers (i.e., insurance companies).
But the Sherman Act applies equally to hospitals that compete against physician-owned practices. Here are some of examples of conduct that may raise antitrust concerns under the Sherman Act:
- According to a June 2017 decision by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, some “long-term exclusive contracts” between insurance companies and a hospital may be illegal if they result in the “destruction of competition.”
- If a hospital pressures physicians for patient referrals–and threatens retaliation such as boycotts or loss of staff privileges if they do not–that may be an illegal abuse of market power.
- Similarly, if an established hospitals acquire independent physician groups or ASCs in an effort to monopolize the local market for health care services, that may violate not only the Sherman Act but also the Clayton Antitrust Act, which bans mergers that have the effect of “substantially lessening” competition.
Contact Us For a Free Consultation
Health care antitrust litigation is incredibly complex. It often requires months of investigation and potentially years of pre-trial discovery. The law itself in this area is also not always clear. Often the line between robust competition and anticompetitive act is in the eye of the judge or jury.
This is why it is critical to work with an experienced Chicago physician competition attorney if you have any reason to believe that your practice or surgical center is the victim of anticompetitive conduct. Call the Law Offices of George M. Sanders, P.C., today at (312) 624-7642, to schedule a free consultation today and discuss your situation with our attorneys.