PHYSICIAN BARGAINING: Bill Proposes Professional Assns.
Reps. Tom Campbell (R-CA) and John Conyers (D-MI) yesterday introduced a bill that would let health care providers form professional associations to give themselves greater leverage in bargaining with health insurers. CongressDaily reports that the measure would allow doctors to "collectively negotiate" their contracts with insurers without violating anti- trust laws or having to form a union. In addition, the legislation, which is backed by several physicians' groups, would give doctors the same treatment other bargaining units receive under the National Labor Relations Act, but would not allow them to "collectively stop providing care." In a "Dear Colleague" letter, Campbell wrote, "The legislation is needed to respond to the practice of health insurers ... engaging in heavy-handed negotiating tactics and requiring exclusionary contractual commitments from health care providers" (Morrissey, 3/25). The American Association of Health Plans says the measure "confuses patient protection with protectionism" because it would "create a loophole in the anti-trust laws" that would curb competition "to the detriment of patients." AAHP President Karen Ignagni said, "This proposal fails the fundamental test of reform because it will deprive many Americans of affordable health care" (AAHP release, 3/25).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.