PHYSICIANS: MANAGED CARE PUSHES MORE TO JOIN UNIONS
Under the headline, "Feeling Devalued by Change, DoctorsThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Seek Union Banner," NEW YORK TIMES looks at the growing number of
physicians who are joining unions as they lose treatment
authority and financial control to managed care companies. While
only 4,000 of the nation's 684,000 doctors in private practice
have joined unions, most of them are located in Florida and
California -- "two populous states with dense concentrations of
managed care companies." Dr. Apolinar Henriquez, a union
organizer in Cocoa, FL, said, "The managed care organizations
have economic power. And we have the power of our group."
TWO THAT DOMINATE: TIMES notes that most unionized
physicians are members of two unions -- Florida Federation of
Physicians and Dentists (FFPD), an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, and
the California-based Union of American Physicians and Dentists.
FFPD is helping physicians by negotiating physician contracts
with managed care plans. In addition, FFPD is appealing to the
National Labor Relations Board to obtain the same antitrust
exemptions that allow most unionized workers to collectively
bargain with employers over wages. TIMES reports that "full-
fledged unionization" by doctors "could depend on" the outcome of
the FFPD's case because antitrust laws now prevent doctors from
banning together "to agree on fees."
CHANGING STATUS: As HMOs "keep spreading, merging and
expanding control over health care," TIMES reports that unionized
doctors "expect" many of their colleagues to join unions.
Nevertheless, Dr. Duff Sprawls noted that the move into managed
care is "difficult" for some doctors because "[m]ost doctors'
dads were Republicans. They do not see themselves as
proletarian. They see themselves as bourgeois" (Kilborn, 5/30).