AMA UNION: Awaits Approval to Represent Medicaid Doctors
Physicians for Responsible Negotiations (PRN), the American Medical Association's newly created union, is poised to represent its first group of physicians, the AP/San Francisco Examiner reports. A group of 27 physicians employed by the Wellness Plan, a Michigan-based Medicaid HMO, approached the union, seeking representation during their upcoming contract negotiations. The AMA formed the union in June in response to increased financial and workload demands placed on physicians by HMOs and other managed care organizations. PRN President Dr. Susan Hershberg said, "We were approached by the physicians because they wanted a contract and wanted a say as to how they take care of their patients." Currently, the Wellness Plan covers more than 125,000 members. Plan officials do not favor doctor unionization. Sam McCargo, senior vice president of the HMO, said, "We are not against organized labor, but we don't believe a union at this time would be the best way for us to enhance and develop our patient relationships. If this happens, it will cause huge changes for the Wellness Plan, and it's too soon to tell if that will be good or bad." PRN must receive approval from the National Labor Relations Board prior to representing the physicians. Under federal law, only those physicians employed by a health plan or a hospital can unionize. According to last year's AMA figures, more than 40,000 of the nation's 110,000 eligible doctors belong to a labor organization (1/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.