New legislation protects the Match from antitrust litigation

Lawyers for the two sides disagree about how the legislation affects a current lawsuit.

By Myrle Croasdale — Posted May 3, 2004

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A last minute amendment to the Pension Funding Equity Act of 2004 has created a new twist in the antitrust lawsuit against the National Resident Matching Program.

President Bush signed into law April 10 a provision that protects graduate medical resident matching programs from antitrust litigation.

"We're delighted we've got a bill that does just what it means for our client," said Thomas Campbell, attorney for the Match. "It's a major step toward bringing this to a conclusion."

Sherman Marek, an attorney for the three former medical residents who filed the class-action suit two years ago, said they would still pursue the lawsuit.

"We don't believe it will have any effect on the lawsuit. There's no exception for price-fixing claims, and the claim here is price fixing."

Sens. Judd Gregg (R, N.H.) and Edward Kennedy, (D, Mass.) were behind the maneuvering that tacked the provision protecting the Match program onto the pension legislation.

The Assn. of American Medical Colleges and American Hospital Assn., who had been actively lobbying Congress for such a provision, said they were pleased with the federal action.

Marek, speaking on behalf of plaintiff Paul Jung, MD, said Dr. Jung was taken aback by the new law.

"He was surprised that his rights under the antitrust laws could be taken from him in this fashion," Marek said.

"This is an attempt to deprive tens of thousands of young doctors of the rights enjoyed by other Americans," said Marek.

The case Jung et al. v. AAMC et al. was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C.

The suit claims the Match is anticompetitive because doctors must participate to gain admission to a residency program and residents' wages are kept artificially low since participating institutions share wage information.

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