American Academy of Emergency Medicine

House Judiciary Committee Passes Bill Allowing Health Care Professionals to Bargain Collectively with Managed Care Companies

AAEM would like to thank our member-physicians for your assistance in passage of HR-1304 by the House Judiciary Committee. The Committee's passage of Congressman Tom Campbell's bill is a major step forward to allow us to bargain collectively with HMOs-without being held in violation of federal antitrust laws.

The bill, as amended, passed the House Judiciary Committee on March 30 by the overwhelming vote of 26 to 2 with one "pass." The amended bill will now move to the full House of Representatives where a vote is expected by April 15. At this time, House passage seems likely because the bill has over 210 bipartisan, House co-sponsors. Efforts are now underway to have a similar bill in the Senate.

As you know, the insurance industry has fought hard against passage of the bill because it does not want to bargain with groups of doctors over the terms and conditions of their contracts with us.

Although the amended bill will be available for review soon, the amendments which were added late last week have the following effect:

  1. A "sunset" and report provision was added to the bill. The effect of this provision is to continue the bill, after the first three years, unless the accompanying GAO report indicates that the right to collectively bargain should be eliminated.
  2. Non-physician health professionals will also be able to exercise this collective bargaining right-if allowed under applicable state law.
  3. The bill does not alter the application of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  4. The bill, as amended, applies to private HMOs and private Managed Care Plans, but not to federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. Out of necessity, the federal applicability provisions were eliminated in order to keep the bill from the jurisdiction of other House committees (with jurisdiction over federal health programs) which were viewed by bill proponents as being against the Campbell bill.

Again, this is a major step forward for physicians who want to "level the contract bargaining field" with managed care companies. AAEM, was an early supporter of HR-1304 as were most physician associations, including the American Medical Association. Apparently, AAEM is the only emergency physician association to support the bill for physicians who practice the specialty of Emergency Medicine.