October 2016
The U.S. Department of Justice’s loss to American Express sends a message to health care providers: Steering, tiering, exclusive dealing and other contractual arrangements that appear to suppress competition in one part of the market may be legitimate where the arrangements facilitate lower prices and better access to services in another part of the market, or have other valid business purposes. 

The decision came Sept. 26 when the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a judgment for the DOJ in a suit accusing AMEX of violating antitrust laws by initiating rules prohibiting merchants who accept AMEX’s credit cards from steering its cardholders to other credit card brands. The court of appeals directed the district court to enter a judgment for AMEX, saying the trial court erred when it found that AMEX’s anti-steering provisions were anticompetitive by focusing only on the interests of merchants and not also on those of cardholders.

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