Morgan’s Monopoly Digest – September 2022

September 15, 2022 Anti-Monopoly Policies & Enforcement

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

Lowering Prices

  • NEW BILL TACKLES PRICE-FIXING. With economists and analysts increasingly recognizing that market power is contributing to inflation, Congresswoman Katie Porter and co-sponsors Reps. Jerry Nadler, David Cicilline, Hakeem Jeffries, and Pramila Jayapal have responded by introducing the Competitive Prices Act (CPA).In recent decades, corporate-friendly judges have undermined the ability to hold corporations accountable for fixing prices. The CPA lowers the extremely high burden of proof required to enforce the law as Congress intended.

Appointments

  • COMMISSIONER  PHILLIPS RESIGNS. Republican FTC Commissioner Noah Phillips announced that he will leave the agency this fall. President Biden will nominate his successor based on the recommendation of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. A coalition of conservative advocacy groups sent a letter urging him to pick a nominee who will stand up to Big Tech. After Phillips steps down, the Commission will have a 3-1 Democratic majority.

Reining in Big Tech

Improving Health Care 

  • FTC CALLS OUT HOSPITAL MERGER COPAs. Research shows 80% of hospital markets are highly concentrated, especially in many rural communities. Certificates of Public Advantage (COPAs) laws in 17 statesallow merging hospitals to avoid federal antitrust scrutiny, which has accelerated this consolidation. The FTC released a policy statement about COPAs’ harms, including higher costs, lower wages, and reduced quality of care, likely opening the door for further regulatory action.
  • CHEAPER HEARING AIDS COMING THIS FALL. In their Executive Order, the Biden Administration took on the hearing aid cartel, which had driven costs for the devices up to nearly $5,000. The FDA’s final rule will lower prices by making hearing aids over-the-counter instead of requiring a prescription, increasing access for the more than 40 million Americans suffering from hearing loss.

Competition In Transit 

  • AGs WANT TO REGULATE AIRLINES. 38 bipartisan state AGs sent a letter to Congress sharply criticizing the Department of Transportation’s handling of this summer’s air travel chaos and requesting authority to hold airlines accountable. Economic Liberties followed with a letter to Secretary Buttigieg outlining steps to better protect consumers in this highly concentrated market and forestall further consolidation in the industry.  

Building Worker Power

  • DOJ SECURES A WIN FOR WORKERS. For years, companies in certain markets have coordinated to prevent competitors from hiring employees, which enables wage suppression. In 2016, DOJ Antitrust announced they would pursue criminal charges for such “no-poaching agreements” as violations of the Sherman Act. DOJ Antitrust recently won its first no-poach case criminal against VDA, a health care staffing company, and their executives forworking together to allocate nurse employees.

ICYMI…

Read the August 2022 newsletter here.