The Florida Medical Association (FMA) turned back a proposal to form a physician's guild, opting instead to set up an advocacy center to assist patients with managed care problems. The decision was made by voice vote by the 303 members of the FMA's House of Delegates during their meeting in Orlando in May. "The vote shows that while physicians do not feel at this time a union would effectively address their concerns with managed care abuses, they do see a strong need for advocacy on behalf of patients and their right to choose a physician and have access to treatment," said Glenn E. Bryan Jr., MD, president-elect and chair of the FMA's High Level Union Team, which was created by a charge from last year's House of Delegates.
California Advantage, the California Medical Association's (CMA) managed care company, filed for bankruptcy in late June after racking up $11 million in loses in 2 1/2 years. Insufficient capital contributed to the demise of the company, which was created in January 1996 with $7.5 million-$1,000 each from 7,500 physician investors. It soon became apparent the venture was underfunded by $10 million to $30 million, but only 2,000 more of the CMA's 28,000 members expressed interest in investing.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge signed patient protection legislation that bars managed care contracts from including "gag clauses," and prohibits the use of financial incentives for providers to withhold medically appropriate treatment. The law guarantees that managed care organization enrollees with disabilities can have their care coordinated by specialists. It requires managed care plans to pay undisputed claims within 45 days and to establish a credentialing process to use to enroll health care providers in their networks.