Health Care Arbitration Bill Would ‘Legalize Collusion,’ Bee Says
A bill (AB 1600) to establish a "voluntary" arbitration system in which health plans and doctors could work out payment disputes "is a direct assault on antitrust laws," a Sacramento Bee editorial states. The bill, sponsored by Assembly member Fred Keeley (D-Santa Cruz) with the backing of the California Medical Association, would allow doctors and the CMA to "collu[de]" to "set a floor price for their services," a practice that is currently illegal, the editorial states. The bill would allow doctors to "create cartels" and is "bad for both patients' pocketbooks and their health," the editorial says.
Another bill (SB 458), which would eliminate arbitration in disputes about health plans "delaying or denying care," represents lawyers "seeking to fill their pockets," the editorial continues. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Montebello), would send all disputes to courts, where lawyers can use "emotion to coax juries into a disproportionately large award." It has "nothing to do with justice, and everything to do with dollars," the editorial states. "With a slowing economy and a worsening energy crisis, California doesn't need new laws that drive up health care costs," the editorial concludes (Sacramento Bee, 5/21).