April 1999 AAOS Report

Bill introduced that allows physicians to collectively bargain

Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and more than 20 congressional colleagues introduced on March 25, the Quality Health Care Coalition Act which would allow physicians and other health care providers to form their own professional associations and collectively bargain with managed care plans to develop the best terms in their contracts. Although health insurance plans are exempt from the antitrust laws, self-employed physicians are not and currently would be in violation of antitrust laws if they bargained collectively with insurers. The bill is intended to put both sides on equal footing. William W. Tipton Jr., MD, executive vice president of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, told a Washington, D.C. press conference that in the last few years, there has been a deterioration of the traditional physician-patient relationship brought about by the "take it or leave it" attitude of managed care plans. Health plans have placed limits on the time a doctor can spend with a patient, and they have placed restrictions on medical tests and treatment options. Dr. Tipton said that although there has been some concern that physicians would strike or withhold services, "I have not yet encountered one physician in support of striking or withholding services." The House Judiciary Committee is expected to hold hearings on the legislation in May. The bill also is endorsed by the American Medical Association; American Dental Association; National Medical Association; American Association of Neurological Surgeons; American Academy of Ophthalmology; American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees, AFL/CIO; and National Association of Community Pharmacists.

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