As you are aware, it is the policy of MPA to comply with all federal and state anti-trust laws. An equal responsibility for anti-trust compliance, which includes an avoidance of even an appearance of improper activity, rests with the individual directors, officers, employees and members of the organization. It is a basic principal of American anti-trust laws that competitors may not restrain competition among themselves with reference to the price, quality, or distribution of any products, and they may not act in concert to restrict the competitive capabilities or opportunities of their competitors, suppliers, or customers.
An unlawful agreement to fix prices or to boycott need not be a formal transaction, but in most cases an informal, implied or oral arrangement and is generally established by circumstantial evidence rather than direct evidence. For example, the anti-trust enforcement authorities have alleged with respect to other organizations that an “offer” to engage in anticompetitive conduct made in the context of a trade association meeting was “accepted” by the subsequent conduct of the association’s members. Therefore, it is important that all MPA representatives and members avoid even the appearance of impropriety in their activities.
In keeping with MPA’s policy to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, members should not discuss, in the course of any MPA meeting, any of their company’s individual decisions to participate or not to participate in any third-party reimbursement plan or program. As many of you know, a situation arose in the State of New York where the anti-trust enforcement authorities alleged that such discussions resulted in a collective not to participate in a particular program. To avoid such an inference with respect to today’s meeting, a company’s decision with respect to any program should not be the subject of our discussions.
Penalties for violating the anti-trust laws are severe, subjecting corporations to criminal penalties, as well as civil damage judgments and injunctive decrees. Individuals also are subject to criminal prosecution and may be punished by fines or imprisonment.
It is imperative that MPA Board members, officers, staff and members work conscientiously to avoid any discussion that may have unintended implications. In the event that any questions or concerns arise during any MPA meeting or other activity, please consult with legal counsel for MPA.
—Adopted as policy by the MPA Executive Board, Sept. 11, 2001