Davis Prefers ‘Voluntary’ Plan to Resolve Physician, HMO Contract Disputes Rather than Collective Bargaining
The Davis administration said yesterday that it opposes the current structure of an Assembly-passed bill that would allow physicians to collectively bargain with managed care organizations and instead favors a "voluntary process in which individual doctors and HMOs can submit contract disputes to an outside expert," the Los Angeles Times reports. The announcement "effectively shuts the door" on AB 1600, which would have exempted physicians and medical groups from federal antitrust laws and permitted them to collectively bargain with health plans over reimbursement rates. While the measure would have required the Department of Managed Health Care to "approve bargaining requests," agency Director Daniel Zingale said that the state should not have a role in selecting which doctors can negotiate with which health plans. "Inserting the government in the private contractual negotiations would likely make things worse, rather than better. That's what I would define as overstepping the bounds of government's role," Zingale said. The bill, backed by the California Medical Association, is "strongly opposed" by business groups, insurers, and "some labor unions" that say it would allow physicians to "fix prices." Doctors, however, say it is necessary to increase their "leverage" against health plans, which "often use standard, take-it-or-leave-it contracts" (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 8/7).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.