One of the big managed care issues placed on hold as a result of Sept. 11 was the push for a patient-rights bill. Now, a major backer of that legislation, the AMA, has decided to take up a cause that hits closer to home.
The AMA is renewing a push for a law that would let private physicians bargain collectively with health plans. Federal law prohibits private physicians from negotiating with HMOs as a group, and also prohibits doctors from striking.
"It is the only way to enable physicians to negotiate effectively with health insurers, without fear of violating antitrust laws," AMA Secretary-Treasurer Donald Palmisano, MD, told Reuters.
Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for the American Association of Health Plans, counters that the AMA, in effect, is fighting for the right to collude and set prices.