Supreme Court to Review Antitrust Enforcement Case

The U.S. Supreme Court announced March 3 that it will decide whether a federal agency can second-guess the work of state medical licensure boards.

The nation's highest court will hear North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a case in which a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the FTC's claim that state licensure boards should be subject to antitrust laws. The appeals court's decision could potentially strip these boards of their authority to regulate their health care professions and shield patients from unlawful practice. 

In a petition filed in late November, the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies and other medical groups urged the Supreme Court to consider the case. The petition argued that "the public is best served when state regulatory boards … are free to make decisions on public health issues without fear of second-guessing under the federal antitrust laws." 

AMA and other petitioners expressed concern over the case's "chilling effect" on medical boards, as the FTC could use federal antitrust laws to second-guess the board's actions on issues related to scope of practice and unlawful practice.

Visit the AMA website for more information on the FTC's engagement with state legislators and state boards of medicine. Read "Doctors Targeted" in the August 2012 issue of Texas Medicine for more on the case.

Action, March 14, 2014