Doctors' Group Votes to Form National Union

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CHICAGO (AP) -- The nation's largest doctors' group voted Wednesday to help form a national union to help physicians negotiate with managed-care companies.

The labor organization would support the formation of local bargaining units as an option for the minority of physicians who are employees of managed-care or other companies. Self-employed doctors would not be involved unless Congress passes a measure pending in the House Judiciary Committee to give such doctors collective- bargaining rights.

The vote by the American Medical Association's 494-member House of Delegates overrode objections from some doctors who said they want to wait for passage of the federal measure. "My profession is being crushed under the rocks of rules and regulations, government interference, HMOs, PPOs and contracts. I need help to fight back," Dr. Jack Summers of Akron, Ohio, said at the AMA's annual policy-making meeting. Federal law forbids doctors who are not employees from forming labor unions in the traditional sense. But the AMA committee that recommended the resolution passed Wednesday said a legal review found the measure to be sound. Changing the law is opposed by the head of the Federal Trade Commission. Shielding health care professionals from antitrust laws so they can collectively bargain with health plans would be "bad medicine for consumers" and could lead to price-fixing, FTC chairman Robert Pitofsky testified Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington. …


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