COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: Bill Gets Tepid Reaction
With the House scheduled today to debate a controversial bill that would grant physicians an antitrust exemption so they can collectively bargain with health plans, Clinton administration officials declined to take a stand on the measure, CongressDaily/A.M. reports. Although it has called the Quality Health Care Coalition Act "anti-consumer," the administration has officially taken a pass on the bill, "presumably to avoid a fight with the AMA," its chief ally in the patients' bill of rights debate. Last Friday, however, Assistant Attorney General Joe Klein, head of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division, called the bill "a bad idea," noting that it "would allow doctors to cartelize in terms of their seller power." The proposal, sponsored by Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Calif.), has also raised concern among GOP members. "What's going to be the fallout of this bill is a marked increase in cost, and no increase in quality," Rep. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) argued. He also plans to propose two amendments: one would prohibit physicians from using their bargaining power to force health plans to provide abortion services and the other would limit the antitrust exemption to Campbell's home state of California (Rovner/Earle, 5/25).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.