Biden directed the Federal Trade Commission to ban or limit non-compete agreements in 2021 as part of a broader effort to improve worker competitiveness. The FTC proposed the rule last month that broadly prohibits settlements for all industries and is taking public comment through March 20 before making a final determination.

“By preventing workers in the entire workforce from seeking better opportunities that offer higher wages or better working conditions, and by preventing employers from hiring skilled workers subject to these contracts, noncompete harms workers and harms the competition,” the FTC said in announcing the proposed rule. .

In dozens of letters sent to the agency over the past month, the doctors described how they were affected by the non-compete agreements, including being forced to move themselves and their families to other regions just to find work after leaving a job. and urged the FTC to ban them.

Eliminating agreements could have a significant impact on workers ability to negotiate wages and change jobs, said Mainzer of the American Nurses Association.

“If you’re stuck with an employer, they can suppress wages. It’s not really a free market,” Mainzer said. «If you can advertise openly, you can try to find the highest bidder wherever you’re most qualified and right now they can’t do that.»

The FTC’s move is expected to draw opposition from companies in a variety of industries. The American Hospital Association along with 100 other industry groups is asking the FTC for more time to formulate a response to its plan given the financial and legal implications it could have.

The hospitals argue that the FTC’s proposal is too broad and would avoid exceptions where they might be warranted, such as when a hospital spends a significant amount of money recruiting and relocating a doctor and helping them build their patient base, a hospital industry. said the rep. Also, nonprofit hospitals, which make up more than half of hospitals, would not be covered by the FTC rule, which could give them an unfair advantage, the representative said.

“The proposed regulation errs in seeking to create a single rule for all employees in all industries, without having studied the unique effects this rule will have on the health care field, and on hospitals and health systems in particular. especially as they continue to deal with severe labor shortages that can threaten patient access to care.» said Chad Golder, associate general counsel for the American Hospital Association.

The American Medical Association, the largest group representing doctors, said its ethics policy opposes “unreasonable non-compete” agreements, but it opposes the general nature of the FTC rule.

“Many states have enacted health care-specific negotiated non-compete statutes that take into account their unique health care markets and that balance the interests of competing stakeholders,” the AMA said in a statement. «The balanced approach of these states must be considered against a proposed universal federal ban on all non-compete agreements.»

Susan Kressly, a pediatrician who spent much of her career working in the Philadelphia area, said she has been on both sides of the issue: She was forced into a non-compete agreement when she worked for a group practice and later demanded that doctors signed them when she started her own. She agreed that non-compete can help medical offices protect the investment they invest in doctors and nurses.

But he said the agreements have become too broad in many cases, with some large hospitals not only barring doctors from working near their former employer, but also from facilities the hospital owns, forcing doctors to relocate. out of state or stop practicing medicine for more than one year. year.

“It seems logical that you need some way to protect that investment so that people don’t move in next door and compete against you after you’ve given them a chance,” Kressly said. “Non-competitors protect people who are willing to invest to grow their business. But it has gotten out of hand with all the consolidation and it has become unreasonable.”