My moment was obtaining a $300,000 restitution settlement that went to paying for indigent care in emergency rooms in Puerto Rico. The New York Times had published a story about how the Puerto Rico College of Physicians and Surgeons, a private professional association, had called a “strike” (really a group boycott) of the Commonwealth’s government indigent care program. The physicians conspired to stop providing care under the program, and to threaten any physician who would, because they believed the fees were too low.

We investigated the conspiracy to stop providing services, and identified where the boycott had prevented patients from receiving care. After determining, how much the Commonwealth had paid the doctors in capitation, we calculated an amount that reflected the value of the time where no services were provided. We made a presentation to the College explaining what they did wrong, eventually got their agreement to make restitution, and obtained District Court approval of a settlement order that prevented further boycotts of the Puerto Rico indigent health care program.

The order approved a $300,000 restitution award that was dedicated to paying for emergency room services for indigent patients in Puerto Rico. This was the most satisfying case I worked on because it provided redress for conduct that hurt people who lack resources of their own. To this day, it is the only restitution settlement the FTC has obtained in a competition case involving physicians.

—Paul J. Nolan