legal issues, discussion of lab fees

From:Geoff McAuliffe

Hi Vinnie et al:

 Vinnie Della Speranza wrote:

  Sorry Geoff but I think your analogy is too simplistic. I don't claim to be an expert on the Stark Law but I've been given the same impression expressed by Tim that we are discouraged ( told it is a violation) to call each other up and share price lists.

      My point is that no one on this list (in the 5 years or so I have been reading) has ever said exactly
  what part of the law is being violated. A few people have screamed "price fixing" in the past, but I
  suspect that they were just looking to supress competition.
      Collusion is, by definition, a secret agreement, Histonet is not a secret forum. I think the definition of "collusion" is what is escaping people.

  I'm no attorney but I'm also not interested in having to prove the legality of my actions in a court of law.

      You don't have to prove that you are innocent, the plantif has to prove that you are guilty! Citing an open exchange on Histonet is not evidence of a secret agreement.

  I certainly don't want a regulatory agency producing my request for pricing from a public list.

      So don't disclose your prices to a public forum. Others may do so if they please.
   the milk analogy really doesnt apply.

      It might or it might not, depending on the same variables you mention below.

  Your cost to perform a stain in your lab could be quite different than my cost, based upon if nothing else geographical differences in salaries. You may purchase your stains premade and I may make mine here in the lab from cheap raw materials. Reimbursement for that service may also be quite different in your state than in mine.

      All true.

  If I call you and decide to adopt your price structure (which you may have adopted from someone else), my fee is no longer based upon my cost of doing business but based upon someone else's opinion of what a "good" price is.

     So what is wrong with asking the opinion, in a public forum, of another Histology lab professional?
If that is illegal then any discussion of any fees by any two business people is illegal. Or does the Stark law apply only to Histology lab fees?

   The individual who wrote in to a public list asking for pricing deserves to know that his/her actions may be in violation of the Stark Law.

      I don't think so.Exactly what part of the law prohibits an open discussion of fees?

  He/she also deserves to know that his/her price should be based upon the actual cost of performing the
  test, and not upon my cost (or yours) of performing the test.

      Again, aren't you entitled to charge whatever you want for the services your lab provides? If you can do the same test for $20 less but choose to charge the same as someone with higher costs, so be it.
  That is not illegal.

   I guess we are all free to decide if we are willing to risk having to endure the stress and cost of proving our point in a legal forum.

      Very true. I just think people should make their decisons based on common sense and the facts, not threats, intimidation or misunderstanding of the law.

   just one manager's opinion

  Which I respect, but disagree with.

   Vinnie Della Speranza
  Manager for Anatomic Pathology Services
  Medical University of South Carolina
  165 Ashley Avenue  Suite 309
  Charleston, SC 29425
  Ph: 843-792-6353
  fax: 843-792-8974
  >>> Geoff McAuliffe <mcauliff@UMDNJ.EDU> 11/13/02 05:04PM >>>
      I am getting very tired of both friendly warnings and outright threats
  about "collusion" in the setting of lab fees. People need to look up
  collusion in the dictionary or better still, consult an attorney. While you
  are at it, find out what "restraint of trade" is. You can get sued for that,
  too. Setting lab fees based on what others charge is NOT collusion. All of
  the grocery stores in my neighborhood charge about the same for a gallon of
  milk. That does not mean they are in collusion.


  "Morken, Tim" wrote:

  > Just a friendly warning: Asking other labs about their rates and setting
  > rates according to what other labs tell you they charge can be considered
  > collusion by people looking for someone to sue!
  > Tim Morken
  > Atlanta
  > -----Original Message-----
  > From: Houston, Ronnie []
  > Sent: Wednesday, November 13, 2002 12:55 PM
  > To:
  > Subject: derm tech service only
  >      Can anyone share the going rate for a Tech service only charge for
  >      Dermatology clients; 3 levels, H&E only.
  >      Thanks
  >      Ronnie Houston
  >      Regional Histology Operations Manager
  >      Bon Secours HealthPartners Laboratories
  >      5801 Bremo Road
  >      Richmond, VA 23226

 Geoff McAuliffe, Ph.D.
 Neuroscience and Cell Biology
 Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
 675 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854
 voice: (732)-235-4583; fax: -4029

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