CA Bill To Drop Anti-trust Laws For Doctor Bargaining

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May Be Necessary Evil For Managed Care Age

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights issued tentative support for new California legislation (SB 2007) that drops anti-trust barriers to collective bargaining by physicians, but said that it would be preferable for the state to directly regulate the “capitated rates” paid by HMOs to physicians. Such a state-run prior-approval system is used by the Department of Insurance (under Proposition 103) in pre-approving all property casualty insurance premiums before they take effect.

“The dangers of price fixing by doctors are very real if anti-trust walls come down, but the imbalance of power between physicians and investor-owned HMOs demands more leverage for physicians in negotiating the rates they are paid,” said Jamie Court, FTCR’s advocacy director and co-author of Making A Killing: HMOs and the Threat To Your Health. “There is a very real link between the reimbursement rates paid doctors and the quality of care received by patients. This bill may be a necessity given today’s epidemic of physician group bankruptcies, but a far better approach would be to directly give the state the power to guarantee that all rates paid to doctors are sufficient to care for patients’ medical needs.”

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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