PHYSICIAN UNIONIZATION: RULING GOES AGAINST JERSEY DOCS
The National Labor Relations Board yesterday rejected aThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
group of New Jersey physicians' bid to join the United Food and
Commercial Workers Local 56, the Bergen Record reports. The 200
"independent doctors from Atlantic and Cape May counties argued
that they are de facto employees of AmeriHealth HMO" (see past
AHL coverage). The doctors said they "should have the right to
form a union, because the HMO dictates the terms of payment and
However, Dorothy Moore-Duncan, the regional director of the
NLRB's Philadelphia office, wrote, "I have concluded that the
petitioned-for physicians are not employees of AmeriHealth." She
said her decision was based on the fact that doctors "also treat
patients from other managed-care companies, insurance companies
and Medicare, as well as walk-in clients who pay independently"
(Gerena-Morales, 1/9). "She said that factors indicating
employee status for the doctors are 'substantially outweighed by
those favoring a finding of independent contractor status," the
Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "Most significantly," she wrote,
"the physicians themselves make the fundamental decisions that
determine the profitability of their practices." The doctors
said they will appeal the decision to the NLRB's executive
secretary (Johnson, 1/9). Local 56 President Anthony Cinaglia
said the "union will 'continue this fight until doctors and their
patients who need quality care receive a fair hearing.'"
According to Francis Hoeber, a spokesperson for NLRB's
Philadelphia office, the "decision does not set a precedent," and
"other doctors have the right to petition of the NLRB for
unionization." He said, "This petition is based on our analysis
of the facts concerning these particular doctors and AmeriHealth.
If there are other cases with other doctors and other HMOs, the
results can be different." Bergen Record reports that in
addition to a group of Northern New Jersey physicians who are
attempting to unionize, "groups of independent doctors in
California, Arizona, New York, Seattle and Washington, DC, are
joining unions" (1/9).