American Academy of Emergency Medicine

AMA Passes Resolutions Against Termination Without Cause and For Physician Review of Billings

In an action that could have sweeping effects in the world of Emergency Medicine, the American Medical Association's House of Delegates adopted two resolutions in December 1997, one striking out against the use of termination without cause clauses in physician contracts and the other in favor of a physician's right to review billings and remittances made on his or her behalf. The specific language of the resolutions are as follows:

Resolution 710 - Termination Without Cause Contract Clauses
Resolved, that the AMA oppose physician "termination without cause" provisions in physician managed care contracts that do not contain due process protections and appeal processes to an independent panel.

Resolution 711 - Physicians' Right to Receive Billing and Remittance Information
Resolved, that the AMA adopt the policy that all physicians are entitled to receive detailed itemized billing and remittance information for medical services they provide, and that the AMA develop strategies to assist physicians who are denied such information.

Both resolutions were first considered and adopted by the Pennsylvania Medical Society before submission to the AMA. Pennsylvania emergency physician Robert McNamara, MD FAAEM, said, "The AMA actually strengthened the language of their resolution 711 over the language adopted by the Pennsylvania Medical Society. In Pennsylvania, the policy reads only that physicians are entitled to receive the billing and remittance information. The development of strategies to assist physicians denied such information was added by the AMA."

When asked what he thought the AMA's actions meant for the specialty of Emergency Medicine, Dr. McNamara said, "It's critically important. It shows that the largest organization of physicians in the United States feels that the kind of abuses going on in EM are unacceptable. They're saying that no physician in this country - regardless of specialty - should have to practice under the restrictions currently imposed on many emergency physicians. That's a powerful message for the EM community, and people on both sides of the fence should take notice of it."

"It's clear from this and many other AMA policies," Dr. McNamara also said, "that AAEM's view of what's right is anything but "radical" to the entire house of medicine. Protecting the rights of the individual physician is the raison d'etre for physician organizations."