News and Commentary

AMA Lobbies To Give Docs Union Rights


One of the big managed care issues placed on hold as a result of Sept. 11 was the push for a patient-rights bill. Now, a major backer of that legislation, the AMA, has decided to take up a cause that hits closer to home.

The AMA is renewing a push for a law that would let private physicians bargain collectively with health plans. Federal law prohibits private physicians from negotiating with HMOs as a group, and also prohibits doctors from striking.

"It is the only way to enable physicians to negotiate effectively with health insurers, without fear of violating antitrust laws," AMA Secretary-Treasurer Donald Palmisano, MD, told Reuters.

Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for the American Association of Health Plans, counters that the AMA, in effect, is fighting for the right to collude and set prices.

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