Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Antitrust News: AMA Says Doctors Need Antitrust Exemption

After being appallingly useless in fighting the antitrust juggernaut facing physicians who negotiate collectively with HMO's, it seems the American Medical Association has had a change of heart and will now be only somewhat useless. This from the AMA’s newsletter.

What physicians are looking for is a fair fight.

That's why the AMA is continuing to look for support for the Health Care Antitrust Improvements Act of 2003. It's a House bill that would allow physicians to receive permission to negotiate collectively with insurers. It also would limit sanctions against physicians who were found not to be in accordance with antitrust statutes, but whose conduct was deemed to be in "good faith." Finally, it also would establish demonstration projects allowing doctors jointly to negotiate contracts with health plans. [AMA]
The the Health Care Antitrust Improvements Act of 2003 or H. R. 1120 was introduced by such stalwarts of capitalism as John Conyers and Charlie Rangel. As identified above, it would allow physicians to ask the government for permission to negotiate collectively with HMO’s and codify a “rule of reason” standard for enforcing antitrust against doctors.

I suppose we should be grateful that the largest lobby-group for doctors has finally seen that antirust is a pressing problem for doctors. Yet the AMA offers no explanation why doctors should have to ask the government for permission to do what any common-laborer has a right to do, nor does it offer any explanation why the AMA is not supporting an outright antitrust exemption.

If H.R. 1120 is the AMA’s idea of a cure, this patient is going to be sick for a long time to come.

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