Ninety percent of physicians are currently or were previously bound by noncompete clauses, according to an April Medscape survey, and President Joe Biden has cracked down on these agreements since in office.
Three antitrust lawsuits have made headlines since Jan. 1:
1. A lawsuit filed Jan. 19 against HCA Healthcare alleges the Nashville, Tenn.-based health system engaged in a pattern of forming sham partnerships with the largest surgical practices in a given area in order to run them into the ground and improve its own market position. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Tampa, Fla., alleges HCA is building a regional monopoly in Sarasota, Fla., as part of a nationwide scheme.
2. Ricardo Cigarroa, MD, the Laredo (Texas) Medical Center and its physicians group urged a federal judge Feb. 9 to dismiss a hospital's suit accusing the group of poaching physicians and monopolizing the area's cardiology market. The Doctors Hospital of Laredo and the Laredo Physicians Group filed a suit in October alleging Dr. Cigarroa entered a conspiracy with Cigarroa Institute, a cardiology outpatient clinic, and Laredo Medical Center to engage in "anticompetitive and tortious behavior" to stop recruitment efforts.
3. Hartford residents sued Hartford HealthCare Corp. Feb. 14, alleging the health system used "unlawful and anticompetitive methods to restrain trade, to acquire a monopoly on acute inpatient hospital services in many key regions of the state, and to abuse the monopoly by using it to extract higher prices from insurers, employers and patients throughout the areas it does business." The residents said that because Hartford HealthCare owns and operates inpatient services, outpatient clinics and other healthcare services, the health system can use its market power to increase rates for insurers, employees and health plan members.