COLLECTIVE BARGAINING: Legislation May Languish in Senate
Legislation that passed the House Friday 276-136 allowing self- employed physicians to collectively bargain without violating antitrust laws faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where majority leader Trent Lott (R.-Miss.) has voiced his opposition. "I don't think we need more lawsuits in America. And I don't think we need more, you know, labor unions in America. And that's basically what they're trying to do. So I certainly don't look on it favorably. I won't be trying to find a way to pass it, I'll tell you that" Lott said. His position lessens the bill's chance of passing the Senate this year, the New York Times notes. Supporters are still trying to find a senator, preferably Republican, to champion the cause. The measure was sponsored in the House by Republican Rep. Tom Campbell (Calif.), who said it "helps doctors help their patients -- nothing more, nothing less. Medical professionals should be allowed to provide care for their patients as they think best." Physician associations including the AMA are lobbying for the bill, claiming that physicians need its leverage to be able to advocate patient care in negotiating with managed care organizations. But a disparate coalition of organizations, including insurers, the Federal Trade Commission, and consumer rights groups, opposes the legislation, saying that it will allow physicians to increase their fees. Legislative Director of the Consumer Federation of America Travis B. Plunkett attacked the physicians' position, saying, "When doctors express such concerns, it's often merely an attempt to improve their economic position in the guise of quality of care" (Pear, 7/1).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.