For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Todd Dvorak
(208) 334-4112

Date: December 1, 2014

Attorney General Reaches Settlement with Four Rexburg Physicians

(Boise) – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has reached settlements with four Rexburg physicians investigated for refusing to provide on-call coverage for the emergency department of their local hospital.

Wasden announced the agreements today with Drs. Robert Coray, Brian Christensen, Jay McMaster and Barry Peterson, who have provided medical services at Madison Memorial Hospital in Rexburg.

The investigation, led by the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, focused on whether the actions of a group of physicians earlier this year violated the Idaho Competition Act during negotiations over on-call pay between the doctors and hospital administrators.  The Idaho Competition Act prohibits conspiracies between two or more persons in the unreasonable constraint of commerce.

The Attorney General’s investigation into the matter is ongoing.

“I am pleased that my office has amicably resolved this matter with these four doctors,” Wasden said.  “I hope other businesses and individuals will find some guidance in the terms outlined in today’s settlement agreements.”

The settlement prohibits the physicians from conspiring with other physicians in any future pay rate negotiations with the hospital, and to certify with the Attorney General each of the next five years their efforts to comply with the Idaho Competition Act.

The investigation centered on negotiations that began last year between the hospital and physicians who provide on-call coverage in the emergency department.  Historically, the hospital required physicians to provide unpaid on-call coverage as a condition of receiving hospital privileges.

In September 2013, a group of doctors sought to negotiate changes in the on-call policy, specifically receiving compensation for the on-call time.  In early January 2014, the physicians notified hospital administrators they would cease providing on-call coverage until the hospital agreed to pay them for being on-call.

The Attorney General contends the actions of the physicians group during that period violated state antitrust laws.

Wasden said it’s essential to understand the investigation didn’t consider the merits of paying physicians for on-call services.

“At issue for my office in this investigation is using anticompetitive tactics to bring about change in the marketplace,” Wasden said.

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