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June 7, 1971

The Hard Sell for HMOs

JAMA. 1971;216(10):1637. doi:10.1001/jama.1971.03180360083015

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Health maintenance organizations (HMOs) are clearly the darling of the Nixon administration and are HEW's legislative goal in the current Congress. There's hardly an HEW speaker who sallies forth to address audiences on health matters who doesn't spend most of his time selling HMOs. All this tunnel direction raises the question, "Are HMOs worth the effort?"

It may depend on what is planned for the health maintenance organization—the group practice (often a closed panel) prepaid clinic.

The AMA has strongly supported a pluralistic system, one which can include financing on a capitation basis. But the Association has also said that any one system should not be forced on the public, whether such force is direct as in a law which makes it mandatory, or indirect through strong government leverage.

Most HEW speakers making the circuit today use such phrases as "dual choice" and "providing leverage" when speaking of the need