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ABSTRACT

Recent efforts by the Federal Trade Commission to apply consumer protection and antitrust laws to the health care industry are discussed, with particular emphasis on those activities of interest and concern to certified nurse-midwives. FTC initiatives that have involved nurse-midwives—including interventions by the Commission before other federal, state, and local governmental bodies—have focused on three major areas to date: hospital privileges; malpractice insurance for backup physicians; and third party reimbursement. While the Commission's continued jurisdiction over these and similar activities involving the professions has been threatened in the Congress during the last several years, relevant committees in both the House and the Senate have now approved FTC reauthorization bills that would maintain its basic antitrust powers, as well as its consumer protection authority over the business and commercial practices of professionals. The Commission is indebted to the American College of Nurse-Midwives for its continued support of FTC law enforcement and intervention activities, the goal of which is to help create a more competitive health care market and to provide for greater consumer choice among qualified providers.