PHYSICIAN UNIONIZATION: Cincinnati Orthopedists Sign Up
More than 80 Cincinnati orthopedists have joined the Federation of Physicians and Dentists (FPD), a move prompted by "several years of frustration with managed care health plans," the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The union was "officially launched" Monday, and Executive Director Jack Seddon said "membership now includes more than 90% of the orthopedists in town." Area urologists, cardiologists and other specialists also have indicated an interest in joining the union, and FPD said it "plans to form a union in Columbus" as well. Dr. John Larkin, past president of the Cincinnati Orthopaedic Society and co-chair of the steering committee "that invited the union to town," said, "It's amazing the response we've seen ... in terms of interest in this. As an individual doctor, or as a small group, doctors really have no power in the marketplace to do any negotiating with these big, national insurance groups."
The Enquirer reports that the "first flashpoint may occur later this year, when the union tries to negotiate contracts with United HealthCare -- the national managed care company that recently agreed to buy Cincinnati's biggest HMO, ChoiceCare-Humana." United HealthCare's Cincinnati director, Ken Hoverman, said, "It will be interesting to see how it plays out in upcoming months. ... We've offered to sit down with (the orthopedists) to listen to their concerns. Our greatest concern is to provide quality health care for our members" (Bonfield, 7/22).