Current antitrust law restricts physicians from joining together to
collectively negotiate. However, such activities may be approved by state
laws under the so-called state action immunity doctrine and by federal legislation
under an explicit antitrust exemption.
In 1999, Texas became the first state to pass physician antitrust exemption
legislation allowing physicians, under certain defined circumstances, to collectively
negotiate fees with health plans. Last year, similar legislation was introduced
in the US Congress, in 18 state legislatures, and in the District of Columbia.
This legislation was passed only in the District of Columbia where its implementation
was blocked by the city's financial control board. Nonetheless, legislation
permitting physicians to collectively negotiate fees with managed care plans
has been introduced in 10 state legislatures this year, and there is continued
interest in introducing similar legislation in the US Congress. This analysis
examines the basic features of this legislation and its potential impact on
the balance of power between physicians and managed care plans.
Hellinger FJ, Young GJ. An Analysis of Physician Antitrust Exemption LegislationAdjusting the Balance of Power. JAMA. 2001;286(1):83–88. doi:10.1001/jama.286.1.83
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