Two Agencies: Don’t Change Antitrust Laws

Don’t expect quick revision of antitrust laws that forbid independently employed physicians to bargain collectively with managed care plans.

Both the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission favor current antitrust policy, which allows only physicians employed by institutions to engage in collective bargaining.

However, the issue continues to generate heat in Washington because California Rep. Tom Campbell, a Republican, is about to introduce legislation that would allow health care professionals to form collective bargaining units to negotiate with HMOs and other insurers. AMA Associate General Counsel Edward Hirshfeld is in favor of exempting self-employed physicians from antitrust laws. The AMA may lobby in favor of the idea (see a related story about AMA lobbying efforts), but most observers say there’s little chance that any legislative changes to antitrust statutes will take place in this session of Congress.

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