Antitrust for Therapists

Antitrust for Therapists

Curt and Katie talk about antitrust laws – how they impact therapists, how to avoid concerns, and what to pay attention to when you’re a therapist.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Sherman Antitrust Law
  • Why antitrust laws are important
  • Looking at insurance companies and the discrepancy that therapists are more held to antitrust than insurance companies for complicated reasons
  • Therapy practices are businesses and in competition with each other
  • Price Fixing and Market Share agreements
  • The problem and risk with group boycotts
  • The difference between colluding and discussing publicly available information
  • How competition discussing fees in small Facebook groups can lead to price fixing
  • The Cardigan Cartel
  • How to communicate fees and discuss insurance issues without getting into antitrust issues
  • Individuals on insurance panels are still competitors
  • How Antitrust can be anti-consumer
  • What the risks are for discussing pros and cons of different insurance panels
  • How to avoid anti-trust problems
  • Why you should talk to an attorney if you’re concerned
  • How interstate commerce relates to antitrust and how Insurance Plans can play a game to get out of all of this
  • The differences between employees who can strike and separate businesses banding together
  • How Single-Payer relates to this topic
  • How associations play into this and why they can survey their members on fees and other aspects of their businesses
  • The difference between being responsible as a business owner and following the trends
  • Sharing information, without making decisions and planning together
  • How often therapists or other healthcare providers get in trouble for antitrust concerns, as well as related licenses
  • Publicly available information is safe to discuss
  • Share information, but don’t put a call to action to do something with your colleagues

Our Generous Sponsor:

Thanks again to our sponsor, Ben Caldwell Labs!

Ben Caldwell Labs offers MFTs a fully-online prep program for the California MFT Law and Ethics Exam that can have you ready for your test in as little as seven days. His program is clear, useful, and best of all, less than half the cost of competing programs. And if you purchase by March 31st, 2019 and use code MODERN at checkout, you’ll get it at an even better price.

Visit BenCaldwellLabs.com/California for complete details.

Relevant Episodes:

In-Person Networking

Modern Therapists Strike Back

Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links.

Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890

CAMFT Article: Avoiding Antitrust Problems

McCarren Ferguson Act

Therapist Staffing Company and Two Owners Settle Charges that They Colluded on Rates Paid to Physical Therapists in Dallas/Fort Worth Area

How Does Antitrust Apply to Psychologists? From APA

CPH Insurance Antitrust Information

Spotlight on Trade Organizations

Association-Sponsored Market Research Program: Common pitfalls, antitrust risks, and opportunities

What the Antitrust Exemption for Health Insurers Means

California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Therapists in Private Practice

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Therapy Reimagined 2019: Sign up here to get notified when the details are released.

Our CALL FOR SPEAKERS!!

Our consultation services:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is a Board Member at Large for the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, a Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Adjunct Faculty at Pepperdine University, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at: http://www.curtwidhalm.com

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant. As a helping professional for two decades, she’s navigated the ups and downs of our unique line of work. She’s run her own solo therapy practice, designed innovative clinical programs, built and managed large, thriving teams of service providers, and consulted hundreds of helping professionals on how to build meaningful AND sustainable practices. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at: http://www.katievernoy.com

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch:

http://www.mtsgpodcast.com

http://www.therapyreimagined.com

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapist’s Group

https://www.facebook.com/therapyreimagined/

https://twitter.com/therapymovement

https://www.instagram.com/therapyreimagined/

Credits:

Voice Over by DW McCann https://www.facebook.com/McCannDW/

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano http://www.crystalmangano.com/

 

 

Transcript (Autogenerated)

Curt Widhalm  00:00

This episode of the Modern Therapist Survival Guide Is brought to you by Ben Caldwell Labs. Sometimes it seems like Ben Caldwell is everywhere.

 

Katie Vernoy  00:06

He’s teaching he’s advocating he’s fighting to make your work and mine easier. And he’s presenting at this Fall’s Therapy Reimagined 2019.

 

Curt Widhalm  00:15

If you don’t know Ben, you should. He’s good dude. He’s a friend of the show. You might even say that we have room for hash tag team Ben.

 

Katie Vernoy  00:21

He’s got a new fully online California MFT Law &  ethics exam prep program. You will love it.

 

Announcer  00:26

Stay tuned at the end of the episode for more details and an exclusive offer for our listeners. You’re listening to the Modern Therapist Survival Guide where therapists live, breathe and practice as human beings to support you as a whole person and a therapist. Here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy.

 

Curt Widhalm  00:46

Welcome back Modern Therapists. This is the Modern Therapist Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm, and my co-host is Katie Vernoy. And, as always, thank you for listening to us. And if you do us a favor and go wherever you listen to podcasts, leave us a rating, leave us review. It really helps us out. And so much of what Katie and I try to do is to talk about things that therapists don’t get taught. Or we hear about in just kind of very miniscule areas of our practice of the way that we go about things. And one of those areas that we’ve been really trying to explore for a very long time is this aspect of how antitrust laws really affect the way that we go about our business. So some of us hear about this in kind of very broad ways. Some of us don’t know how this applies to us at all. Some of you might be hearing about this for the very first time today. So buckle up, we are going to get into all sorts of super exciting centuries olds, congressional laws, and the way that this affects our practices. So Katie is already bored to tears. And the way that we’re structuring This episode is I have through some of my work with the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, been tasked with learning about antitrust stuff, we thought that this would be a good way to present this information, as I’ll provide background information. And Katie is going to kind of represent the everyman questions of well, how does this actually look in practice? So I have been talking for a while. Good morning, Katie.

 

Katie Vernoy  02:25

Good morning. You did talk for a while. But I think it is important to recognize that even if antitrust is not the thing that you want to be listening to over your morning coffee, it is important to understand it because I think there is a lot of times, especially in our work on the CAMFT board, where folks will come up and say why can’t CAMFT do this, or why can’t CAMFT do that. And I think oftentimes, even in the beginning of our board meetings, we we comment on antitrust. And so I think understanding it and understanding how to have advocacy happen, that doesn’t put us at risk of going against antitrust, I think it’s very important.

 

Curt Widhalm  03:05

So we’ll get into professional associations and antitrust stuff a little bit later in the episode here. So diving in, and just just to comment that we’re not speaking for count or any professional association, and we’re only speaking for ourselves. I think that’s important when we’re talking about legal stuff, right? It is. So the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed and signed into law in 1890 by Benjamin Harrison, and it regulates competition among enterprises. The Sherman act broadly prohibits anti competitive agreements and unilateral conduct that monopolizes or attempts to monopolize a relevant market. So we’re already starting out with this is 2019 when we’re recording this, and this is a law that has been federally in place for about 130 years. So for people who are thinking of complaining about well, we need to get through this. Not only has Congress updated this several times in the last 130 years, but the US Supreme Court has upheld several statutes and interpretations of this as well. This law is not going anywhere.

 

Katie Vernoy  04:16

Yeah, yeah, I think it’s something where the law itself I don’t think seems problematic to me, to me something where when you’ve got these big giant corporations, and they’re trying to create these monopolies, and every time you get, you’re gonna say monopoly, I’m going to picture the board game. But (Curt Widhalm: and ironically, there’s only one company that owns monopoly.) I think it’s something where that the issue of these big, gigantic corporations and kind of the big guys not being able to come together to set prices or set practices in place that could hurt the consumer. That sounds great to me. I think the thing that’s hard is relating that to an individual therapist, and looking at kind of these others other hulking organizations like insurance companies that seem to be working against us. And each of us have to kind of tilt at those windmills alone. And so I think that’s the thing that’s more more problematic than the law.

 

Curt Widhalm  05:17

So, and this is where we really need to step back, we are very relational people. But in the eyes of the law, each of us as individual practitioners who run our own practices are seen as competitors in the marketplace, because at its core, this is a Consumer Protection Act. Although there, this really wasn’t an attempt of being solely about consumer protection. It does look at each individual business as its own individual business, for instance, my practice could be seen as being equivalent to McDonald’s and Katie’s could be seen as being equivalent to Burger King, just at a much, much smaller scale. And when we look at it from a consumer protection aspect, this is where we are independent as far as our clinical practices go. And therefore, if we start colluding on things like how much we’re going to charge clients, or how much we’re going to market into each other’s territories, this is seen as anti-competitive business practices and colludes to the marketplace.

 

Katie Vernoy  06:19

Yeah, I see what you’re saying. But I think a lot of what we’ve talked about is that in truth, where, yeah, we’re competitors. I’m not sure I like being Burger King, but I get your point. But I think it’s something where there is so much collaboration that we want to do, oftentimes, we’ll work with each other on cases, there’s things where it doesn’t feel competitive. And I think the other thing that most therapists, not me, because you know, I am all about the business stuff. But a lot of therapists don’t see themselves as a business, even though they have a practice. So I think it’s something where it’s hard to translate that because I’m little old me, yes, yes, I have a business, but I’m not competing with Curt, because we’re gonna collaborate on cases, or we’re gonna do work together. And I think that’s the part that I think can be hard to translate. But I will concede the point. We are individual businesses, and we are competitors. Because I think that is the truth. And you and I think our networking episode talked about how a lot of therapists will only network with their competitors and stand up and say, I see the same clients as you and expect referrals. So I think we do need to get a very clear sense of ourselves as businesses. So I think that’s a positive thing. But but recognizing, not only are we businesses, we’re in competition with each other, according to the law.

 

Curt Widhalm  07:38

Yeah, a free market. And it really is important to look at this because when it comes to acknowledging yourself as a business, or not, ignorance, or willful ignorance of considering yourself as a business doesn’t actually stand up as a is a legal defense if you’re ever in violation of these things. So you do need to acknowledge that yes, you are a business, or you are a part of a larger business. So some of this stuff will go into group practices and larger delivering of mental health services. And we’ve mentioned some of how antitrust comes up in some of our other episodes, our episode on the Kaiser strike, we talked about how it’s a strike, not a group bike boycott. But we’ll dive into that right now because I’m talking about it. So in addition to price fixing, and in addition to market share agreements of and what I mean by that is that not going into other people’s territory, your order going into business, but group boycotts are also about coming to a agreement, whether it’s formalized or not, to not utilize a certain businesses standards, or services or goods in order to drive that business out of business. I’m saying business a lot during this episode. If Katie and I were sitting around at networking meeting with a bunch of other therapists, and we said, you know, we all need this widget to operate our practices, we need to have electronic health record and we all agree that this company is not one that we like, we should not use them, we should all agree to use somebody else. This is a group boycott in development, and can be seen as an anti-competitive practice to not using whoever we freely choose to use.

 

Katie Vernoy  09:35

But if I individually say I don’t like this electronic health record, and someone says I don’t either and people then decide of their own free will to use the best electronic health record because it’s the one that we always talk about. Is it something, Is that still the same thing? Because if we’re not, you know, colluding together to try to do this, this thing, but if we just ask our colleagues, what are you using what’s the best and somebody says “Oh, this one’s awful.” And we listen to that, that’s just good business practice. To me, it’s not planning to boycott.

 

Curt Widhalm  10:07

Sure, and this is where within the interpretations of the way that the Sherman act was written is that there is independent decision making that is allowed. And part of this is being aware of publicly available information. So, trying to, you know, kind of use some more concrete examples that will then pull kind of into our therapy world here. If a gas station is advertising their prices and competing gas station is seeing that the gas station prices across the street are lower, those are publicly available information, they can then lower their prices in order to remain competitive. And McDonald’s employee can walk across the street to Burger King and see how much they’re charging for French fries. These are publicly available pieces of information; where it gets a little bit shady here and where we need to protect ourselves is when we get into these hyper focused groups, whether it’s networking, whether it’s a Facebook group designed specifically for therapists, like our modern therapist group, come on over and join it, we add to these conversations, a little bit of native advertising in the middle of our (Katie Vernoy: Yeah, that wasn’t real smooth, though, that could continue.)

 

Curt Widhalm  11:18

But when the competition is entering into these more private spaces, and having these conversations, this is where it can be somewhat easily traced back to this is no longer publicly available information. This is the development of a de facto cartel. And I like to think of a de facto therapist cartel is a bunch of people in like suede jackets and cardigans.

 

Katie Vernoy  11:51

So if we’re in a group, like the modern therapist group, or tTIPP or something therapists in private practice, if we’re in one of those groups, and we’re talking about fees, and then we all decide that we’re going to have the same feed that is the making of this suede jacket, cardigan cartel? Is that what you’re saying?

 

Curt Widhalm  12:13

Yes, it is that that is kind of the definition of what a cartel is because now this group of therapists has said, “Hey, free market, we’re not allowing for somebody to be competitive to lower their prices, we’re, we’re all agreeing that in order for us to maximize the profits of our businesses and the businesses around us, we are going to hold the marketplace to having to pay this higher price”.

 

Katie Vernoy  12:40

But if I just say, “Hey, this is my fee”, and I put that out there, whether it’s on my you know, whether it’s in one of these private conversations in a networking meeting, or in a Facebook group, obviously, if it’s on my website, it’s it’s public information people can do with it what they want, but if I just in conversation, whether it’s a post or a comment, or whatever, if I say my fee is $200. And somebody else says, ‘Oh, that’s a good fee, I want to do that, too.’ And somebody says, ‘Oh, I’d never charge that much. I’m not going to do that.’ That doesn’t seem like it’s price fixing. It just seems like people are making others aware of what they’ve, what they’re charging. They’re they’re advertising their publicly available information.

 

Curt Widhalm  13:2

Right? Where in an absolutely free market. So this is where we’re talking about, like non contracted rates. And we’ll stir this to contracted rates here in just a moment. stating your fee is absolutely fine. It’s when the conversation shifts to, we all should make sure that we charge at least $150 a session so that way, we can all stay in business, where we start to say, hey, if you charge less than $100, then that means that I have to drop my prices too. And I I like charging higher prices. Why don’t you just keep your prices up, or, you know, there’s a lot of Facebook groups with, it’ll ask for a sliding scale thing. And you’ll see a bunch of therapists kind of racing to the lowest fee that they’ll provide. And every so often I’ll see a comment of, Hey, guys, you’re killing the business, raise your fees, so that way we can all stay in business. Those are the kinds of conversations that steer more towards this collusion of keeping the marketplace paying a certain premium price for the services. Where this happens, actually more often is when it comes to managed care panels, because even though you’re all contracted still within a managed care company, and I’m not currently but for a bunch of therapists who are all under one managed care plan, you’ll sometimes see discussions going around, you know, I haven’t received a rate raise in 30 years and, you know, we all should quit this panel so that way they’re forced to come back to us and pay higher rates, because we have had good relationship with them even though that they haven’t raised their fees, even though you’re still within that same managed care panel, you’re still seen as competitive businesses, because your employer is not in the managed care plan. It is, stillas an individual. Yeah.

 

Katie Vernoy  15:15

Yeah. And I think there’s there’s two things going on there. Right. There’s the trying to set fees or set rates, and then there’s also the plan to boycott. And so both of those things, I think, are, are problematic, because I think it’s something where there’s, there’s the the antitrust issue, but there’s also this piece of it’s anti consumer in a lot of ways, like, we’re gonna just boycott this insurance panel, because it’s so bad. But so people who have that insurance and probably don’t have a choice to get another insurance, most likely, because oftentimes, work plans are, you know, you know, employer plans are pretty specific. So so it negatively impacts of consumers, which is what the whole Sherman Antitrust Act was about is to protect the consumers and make sure that there’s not these big gigantic monopolies that are doing this stuff. But I think the other piece is kind of on the flip side, I want to let other clinicians know if I’ve had a bad experience with an insurance panel. And if people say which panels are you on? I might tell them, and if they say which ones have you left, I would tell them, and I might tell them why. And so if I do that, and they decide that to quit the panel, or they decide, you know, to join a panel, is that still I mean, when does it go across the line, because I don’t want to hurt consumers, I don’t want to be part of a, you know, cardigan wearing cartel. But I do want to make sure that my colleagues are not getting involved in things that are really bad for their business, or really hurtful I’m in and as the business consultant, I obviously share that information with my clients. And so at what point does it become a problem? Because I don’t think that we should try to boycott certain panels or do those kinds of things, for the reasons that I said, but I also don’t think that I’m going to stand by if someone’s on this panel and complaining and saying, Yeah, that’s not just you. This is a bad panel.

 

Curt Widhalm  17:11

So I’m citing here, this is an article from Ann Tran from the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapist called “Avoiding Antitrust Problems”. And in it, she describes several instances where a cartel or an antitrust decision can be as little as two competing practices. So for instance, two independently practicing therapists agree with each other to terminate their provider contracts with a managed care plan after informal discussions regarding problems that therapists are having with the plan.

 

 

Katie Vernoy  17:41

Well, that’s just malarkey. I mean, I understand that but really, like if you and I talk and sit, and you’re like, I’m thinking about getting on an insurance plan, and I would say, well, these are the ones I’d recommend, and I don’t recommend these. I’ve now we’re now in violation of antitrust,

 

Curt Widhalm  17:59

We we are potentially setting ourselves up. And I think it’s important to point out that I am not a lawyer, that this is kind of a therapist understanding of antitrust laws. So the nuances of this are really going to be better described like if you’re really worried that you have a little tiny cardigan cartel, talk to a lawyer that this is it’s a very complex area. And we’ve tried in the past to have antitrust lawyers come on and talk to us about this and in a more legally sort of way. And the complexities of this have made it even difficult for us to get guests on this. So when it really this is kind of the therapist view of things and things to be aware of, talk to a lawyer that’s really the call to action on this.

 

Katie Vernoy  18:49

I think for me, and this is potentially specific to me, as a business coach for therapists, oftentimes, we’re having these conversations, and I’m advising them on which insurance panels to pursue and which ones to potentially not consider. It sounds like I am, I’m starting my own little cartel, and I didn’t even know it.

 

Curt Widhalm  19:13

Yes, you very well might be but it would also kind of look at potentially where where your clients are. It’s one thing if you’re talking to your suitemate, this is definitely within the same market. There’s a whole part of this antitrust stuff that really deals more so with interstate commerce and businesses going across states, and this is where some of the health insurance, antitrust exemptions so the insurance companies don’t have to follow the same rules that we do because they have an exemption. So this deals largely with the 1945 McCarran Ferguson act which gives the states the power to regulate the business of insurance. And this says that if we make insurance companies a state-by-state regulated thing, then insurance companies have an antitrust exemption at the federal level that the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice aren’t going to regulate insurance companies that are regulated within the state; seems pretty good at face value, at least as far as health care providers go because it’s more tightly controlled. Because it’s a smaller area, there’s more specific rules. And anybody who’s familiar with insurance plans, know that insurance plans can vary wildly within a state, let alone state by state. And so insurance in Arkansas is going to be much different than insurance in California, this part of the Republican care plan, had they been able to try and overturn the Affordable Care Act of allowing inner states selling of insurance so that an Arkansas company could sell insurance to California customers, would’ve opened up a lot more of this antitrust stuff to the insurance companies and really reevaluating that exemption. But still not good news in this, at least in states like California, there are several different insurance regulating bodies. And it’s not like the insurance companies are regulated by all of the bodies, they can jump from one body to another. So the insurance commissioner might come down hard on an insurance company, and they say, you know what, we fit really more under Department of Managed Health Care. And so the punishments to the insurance companies are (a) very small compared to the amount of money that they make in the first place and (b) not necessarily super enforceable unless they’re all under one house.

 

Katie Vernoy  21:54

Well, and I think there’s another thing that I’ve seen a lot because I do accept insurance in my practice, is that there are companies that have offices all over the country. And so even people in California may have a Texas or Colorado insurance plan because their main office is in Texas or Colorado. So I think there’s so much that the insurance companies have been able to do to kind of wiggle out of this antitrust. And so it really does feel unfair that clinicians can’t come together and try to negotiate higher rates. It just seems like especially for therapists, for mental health providers, that we get short shrift on this, like, we’re getting shafted.

 

Curt Widhalm  22:41

The one kind of other way. And I mentioned our episode about the mental health therapists working for Kaiser is that this exemption applies to, again, these independent practices. So Katie’s practice, and anybody else who’s paneled within the same insurance companies, as her, where agency work and we’re working for an organization like Kaiser are different is that those are therapists who are employed by the same employer, and are actual employees, they’re not contracted, like a regular insurance plan would be. So what this does is it allows for strikes because you’re not group boycotting against a outside entity, you are actually striking against your employer. This is where potentially in any sort of future health insurance sort of things that the professional associations would actually allow for the creation of unions, the professional associations would not turn into unions, but the professional associations would encourage unions under a single payer system where people who are employed by essentially the government would have a lot better chance of being able to unionize, to negotiate reimbursement rates as a group. So having a union definitely allows for you to negotiate as a group. That’s what the benefits of a union would be. But coming back to a point from earlier about the professional associations, Katie and I are both on the Board of California Association of Marriage And Family Therapists. (Katie Vernoy: And we’re not speaking for them) still not speaking for them. But the associations we start all of our board meetings with, you know, reviewing our antitrust statement, it’s almost like a pledge of allegiance to our board meetings, like stand up, put your hand over your hearts, and (Katie Vernoy: we don’t do that). Almost,  (Katie Vernoy: we acknowledge it, we acknowledge it and understand it.) But professional associations have really a weird place in all of this because we’re not supposed to discuss wages. And you know, if the Federal Trade Commission wants to come after Katie and her practice, the penalties are pretty severe, like several $100,000 per fine. (Katie Vernoy: Oh goodness) and jail time, you usually at least four months in jail is the recommended amount of time for antitrust violations, if it involves jail. The professional associations penalty starts in the millions of dollars per violation. This is where in, you know, if the FTC is really gonna go after somebody, the Department of Justice is really gonna go after somebody entities, you know, small fish compared to an organization that might have several million dollars sitting in their coffers. So they’re gonna go after the big people first. But this is where it’s really important for professional associations to ensure that they are not creating a cartel opportunity by allowing members to discuss their reimbursement rates, and have that happen under the organization’s umbrella. So they are very resistant to allowing this. Now, you might say, “hey, Curt, my professional organization collects demographic information about me, including the fees that I charge, how are they allowed to do this?” And I would say, “hey, listener, that’s a great question.” Organizations are allowed to have a demographic survey of their members. And they are allowed to publish this, at least four months after the data is collected. So they are allowed to ask about past fees, not about current or future plans. So it’s a good benefit to members to participate in these surveys. And there’s some other regulations in there, it should, it should be conducted by an independent third party, it shouldn’t be done by the organization itself, it should be available to non-members of the organization to participated in it as well. So it’s not just reflective of the organization itself, but of all people holding a given license.

 

Katie Vernoy  26:46

And I think that can be helpful information. And I think there are other entities, not necessarily even professional organizations that kind of gather information and post it, you know, in this way to help us all understand the trends, because I think it is responsible business to understand the trends in fees, and, you know, all of the insurance and all of the stuff so we can make informed decisions. So I’m glad we can have that information public. I think the the difficulty I think a lot of therapists have is an understanding where it becomes a problem. So I think because, you know, we’re, we’re getting close to where we have to wrap up, but I think what I’m really hearing is that it’s about changing from sharing information to making plans and trying to influence each other in the decisions we make in a in a strategic way. I think, you know, I was joking that I’ve got my my cardigan cartel. But in truth, even in the conversations I’m having, I’m not saying don’t use this insurance plan for this reason, I’m saying, “Hey, here’s the pros and cons, what decision do you want to make?” And that’s, I think, the important aspect, it’s, we can share information. We just can’t make decisions for each other.

 

Curt Widhalm  28:02

Absolutely. One last piece that comes in is, you know, sometimes when we dive into some of these deeper legal and ethical issues, a question that we get back is, how often does this actually happen to therapists? Are there actually health care providers who are having this happen? My quick research into this is that as far as psychotherapists go, this doesn’t seem to be hugely on the radar of the FTC or the DOJ. But what I do see is a lot of similar level licenses having this happen, chiropractors, physical therapists, so it’s not a far jump to say that, if we start doing these things that we would be completely exempt. I’m looking at an article here, and we’ll include it in our show notes available at MTSGpodcast.com. But this is from July of 2018, that a physical therapist staffing company in Dallas, Fort Worth area was fined for actually creating a market cap on how much they would actually pay physical therapists working for them. So this does work both ways as well, as far as setting, you know, prices that are too high, but also driving wages down too low. And this is, you know, a big part of, you know, not just on the antitrust stuff. But why Katie and I are so passionate about making sure that therapists and especially pre licensed therapists get paid is that that creates kind of a potential for collusion between agencies of driving wages down as well.

 

Katie Vernoy  29:34

That feels like that’s a whole other conversation. Because I know that there’s a lot of public information made for for wages. So I think there’s, there’s a lot of things that could happen there. But I think to me, it’s good to know that therapists haven’t like we don’t have a whole bunch of therapists like you know, rotting away in prison for antitrust because I think it is something that’s fairly mild. We don’t necessarily pull together as large groups of people and try to, you know, set fees or boycott insurance panels or whatever, but I think it is important to be aware of it. And I think a lot of times, especially like in the Facebook group, so that kind of stuff, somebody starts mentioning fees or starts mentioning contracted rates for insurance, everybody’s like “ANTITRUST!” freaks out. And I think it sounds like publicly available information, which could be your own fees, which you might post on your profile or on your website, some of the insurance panels have publicly available. You know, different types of contracted rates of people could learn that. But oftentimes, there is a kind of behind the scenes, each contracted individual has their own rates. And so sharing insurance rates and talking about those things, that’s where we’re crosses a line. So yes, you can say what your fees are. No, you can’t play with somebody else. Yes, you can share publicly available information. But no, you can’t share insider information from your own little company, about what your insurance plan is paying you.

 

Curt Widhalm  31:07

Yes. In other words, state what’s there, no call to action. So I mentioned it a little bit earlier, but come to our Facebook group, the modern therapist group, check out some of the references that we’re going to put on our show notes at MTSGpodcast.com. And we have our call for speakers out for our 2019 Therapy Reimagined Conference. It’s October 18, and 19th here in the Los Angeles area and two days of dealing with modern therapist conference topics. So submit your proposals, we’ll have our crew, evaluate through them and pick out the very best things that are the most pressing things for therapists today. And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy.

 

Katie Vernoy  31:52

Thanks again to our generous sponsor Ben Caldwell labs, they offer MFTs a fully online prep program for the California MFT law and ethics exam that can have you ready for your test. And as little as seven days its program

 

Curt Widhalm  32:05

This clear, useful and best of all, says true less than half the cost of competing programs. And if you purchase by March 31, 2019, and use code “modern” at checkout, you’ll get an even better price.

 

Katie Vernoy 32:18

Visit BenCaldwellLabs.com/California for complete details. That’s BenCaldwellLabs.com/California.

 

Announcer  32:27

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