The Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has filed a price-fixing complaint, settlement and proposed final judgment against the Oklahoma State Chiropractic Independent Physicians Association (OSCIPA) and its executive director, Larry Bridges, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
The Antitrust Division alleges in United States of America v. Oklahoma State Chiropractic Independent Physicians Association and Larry Bridges that the defendants fixed prices by negotiating payer contracts on behalf of OSCIPA’s member chiropractors.
Some 45 percent of practicing chiropractors in Oklahoma are members of OSCIPA, which lists “gain and maintain market share on behalf of our participating chiropractors” as one of its missions.
The Antitrust Division alleges that the defendants caused a rise in the prices of chiropractic services and a decrease in the availability of such services in Oklahoma through a variety of actions. Since at least1997, OSCIPA has denied its members the ability to create their own individual payment agreements with health insurance providers and other payers. In 2004, OSCIPA went one step further and required members to cancel any existing contracts they had made with payers before the 1997 policy was implemented.
Between 2004 and 2011 the OSCIPA negotiated contracts with seven different payers. According to the Antitrust Division, not only did these contracts increase prices, but they also kept member physicians from offering their patients discounts, such as by waiving insurance deductibles.
Under the proposed final judgment, the defendants would be enjoined from contracting with payers on behalf of chiropractors and from facilitating joint contracting among chiropractors. The proposed final judgment would neither affect the right of consumers to bring private antirust damage actions against the defendants, nor be given any prima facie effect in any such private lawsuit.
In accordance with the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act, the complaint, proposed final judgment, and competitive impact statement are being published in the Federal Register. The Antitrust Division will collect public comments for 60 days and submit them to the Court before a final decision is made.
Written comments can be submitted to: Peter J. Mucchetti Chief, Litigation I Section Antitrust Division United States Department of Justice 450 Fifth Street, NW, Suite 4100 Washington, DC 20530.
Categories: Antitrust Litigation