DOCTORS’ UNION: North Coast Docs Like Plan
The president of the Sonoma County Medical Association said yesterday that the American Medical Association's plan to unionize doctors "might improve patient care on the North Coast by putting physicians on equal footing with powerful managed care organizations." Dr. William Meseroll estimated that as many as 200 of the county's 1,000 doctors may be eligible to join the union and "many will be eager to do so." He said, "It's tough for them to deliver the level of care they would like to deliver. One of the reasons is they've got so much paper work to do as part of the managed care system. I would hope that would be one of the things this AMA union would be doing." Dr. Clinton Lane, another local physician, noted that a union for state-employed doctors "helps maintain high-level care in state health facilities." He said, "If it would just help them become more united in negotiating contracts with the HMOs it might be of some value. As it is, they're often in a situation where the HMO will say 'take it or leave it.'" Dr. John Dervin, president of Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods, said that doctors are reluctant to unionize, but that "a lot of them feel very frustrated. He said, "They think they have to do something in order to protect their ability to control patient care." Meseroll said one of the biggest issues is "how much money is kept back by HMOs for administration and profit relative to how much money actually goes to treatment" (Weiser, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 6/25).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.