Zengerle, Jason
May 2004
New Republic;5/10/2004, Vol. 230 Issue 17, p34
There once was a time, not long after I gave up my dreams of being a firefighter, but well before I settled on a career as a writer, when I wanted to be a trustbuster. Which is why it's surprising that I was not at all outraged last month when I witnessed my wife, Claire, a medical student here at the University of North Carolina, fall victim to a monopolistic conspiracy. The monopolistic conspiracy is the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), otherwise known as "the Match," which, for the past 52 years, has placed graduating medical students in residency programs at teaching hospitals across the country. This would seem a blatant violation of antitrust laws. By not allowing medical students to field offers from multiple employers, the Match deprives them of the opportunity to negotiate pay and benefits. So it wasn't surprising when, in 2002, three former residents filed an antitrust suit against the NRMP and a number of teaching hospitals, seeking to abolish the Match. The defendants in the suit, not content to wait for their day in court, aggressively lobbied Congress for an antitrust exemption for the Match. And, this month, in a last-minute provision that Senators Ted Kennedy and Judd Gregg stealthily slipped into a massive pension relief bill, Congress gave them just that. I, for one, was glad they did, because, while the Match does have its drawbacks, it's still the best way to place newly minted doctors in their first jobs.


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