Morgan’s Monopoly Digest – January 2023

January 23, 2023 Anti-Monopoly Policies & EnforcementCompetition Policy Digest


Building Worker Power
  • FTC COMBATS NONCOMPETES.  As Chair Lina Khan detailed in the NYT, the FTC has proposed banningnoncompete agreements for all workers. Noncompetes prevent roughly 30 million Americans from changing jobs or starting their own business, which decreases wages and stalls entrepreneurship and innovation. A diverse array of economic thought leaders, small business advocates, and labor leaders applauded the announcement. Anyone can submit comments on the proposed rule here. The FTC also sued three companies under Section 5 for illegal noncompete policies. This is the first time the FTC has sued to halt noncompetes.
  • TRAVEL TURBULENCE CONTINUES. Southwest Airlines left 2 million passengers stranded over the holidays, and some are asking what the Department of Transportation (DOT) can do to improve the airlines. The DOT previously fined five foreign carriers and Frontier, which has a 2% market share, but none of the large carriers for widespread flight cancellations over the summer. Economic Liberties’ Senior Fellow Bill McGee  discussed the Southwest fiasco on the Medhi Hasan Show and, in a NYT op-ed, makes the case for rolling back federal preemption to give state AGs and legislatures power to protect consumers and promote competition. 
Reining in Big Tech
Improving Health Care
  • TAKING ON UPMC’S HOSPITAL MONOPOLY. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is a notorious hospital monopoly that controls 40 hospitals with 8,800 licensed beds, an insurance network that covers more than 4 million people, and employs roughly 92,000 workers. Last week, in partnership with Congresswoman Summer Lee, PA State Rep. Sara Innamorato, and SEIU, Economic Liberties released “Critical Condition: How UPMC’s Monopoly Power Harms Workers and Patients.” The paper is an in-depth examination of how UMPC has used its power to drive down wages, working conditions, and the quality of care in Western Pennsylvania, and includes a robust policy agenda for reducing that power and reintroducing competition into the local health care market.
  • SENATORS PUSH HHS FOR GENERIC DRUGS. Many drug patents operate as monopolies, blocking out generics and fueling high drug costs. For example, Xtandi, a leading prostate cancer medication, costs Americans six times more than in other high-income countries. Earlier this month, Senator Warren and others members called on HHS to fight back by exercising its “march-in” rights under the Bayh-Dole Act and issue patent licenses forgeneric versions of Xtandi. By bypassing drug company patent monopolies, HHS has the opportunity to spur industry competition and lower prices.
  • OREGON APPROVES AMAZON-ONE MEDICAL. In July 2022, Amazon announced plans to acquire One Medical, a national primary care company with health care data of 700,000+ patients in 29 markets. The acquisition would further entrench Amazon’s market power in healthcare. Recently, the Oregon Health Authority approved the deal over intense opposition, including from labor unions. All eyes were on Oregon’s ruling because of their new hospital M&A law. The FTC is also investigating the merger, which, according to a Capitol Forum report, is specifically probing concerns among Amazon Care’s corporate customers.
In the Name of National Security 
  • DOJ TARGETS MILITARY CONTRACT RIGGING. A Department of Defense report identified a lack of competition among military contractors as a threat to national security. In response to a contractor conspiring to rig procurement bidding, further limiting competition, DOJ sued for Sherman Act Section 1 violations and secured a guilty plea.
  • Senate Judiciary Committee is hosting a hearing on January 24 at 10am ET to examine competition in the live events industry, especially the role of Live Nation-Ticketmaster. Learn more at
  • Tim Wu, Special Assistant to the President for Competition and Tech Policy, has departed the White House. During his tenure, Wu supported the President’s appointment of strong antitrust enforcers and assisted with the Biden Administration’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy
  • The FTC is said to be investigating Pepsi and Coca-Cola over price discrimination in violation of the Robinson-Patman Act
  • As directed by President Biden in his EO on Competition Policy, a new FDA rule allowing over-the-counter hearing aid sales went into effect this fall. Since then, Fast Company reported that a “seismic shift” has taken place in the hearing aid market, and new devices are being rolled out “in a variety of shapes, sizes, and prices…retailers and drug stores are about to be awash in these devices.”
  • Whether it’s a “service fee” when buying a concert ticket or “administrative fee” when submitting an application, it’s almost impossible to escape junk fees. The FTC is looking for public input on how these abusive fees inflate costs. Comments are due February 8.