Teeth-whitening Supreme Court case could have larger effect on healthcare

A dentistry-related case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court may have broader healthcare implications, according to National Public Radio. The court will rule on whether a North Carolina state regulatory board that bans non-dentists from offering cheaper teeth-whitening services violates federal antitrust laws. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit earlier ruled that such an arrangement essentially allows the private dentists who make up the state board to run their competitors out of business. During arguments, Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out the case's potential ramifications for healthcare; if the case involved a board of brain surgeons, he said, and the state determined it "would like this group of brain surgeons to decide who can practice brain surgery in this state," it would be preferable to have brain surgeons, rather than a "group of bureaucrats" make such a decision, Breyer said. And Jonathan Lebowitz, former chairman of the Federal Trade Commission told NPR, "this isn't just a case about whitening teeth. This is a case about whether professional associations--dentists, doctors, lawyers, title insurers, movers--can hide behind professional boards to restrict competition." Article

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