Trying to promote "physician-friendly" managed-care systems, the American Medical Association has launched a project to help doctors finance their own healthcare networks.
Five physician groups now have submitted proposals to the AMA's capital pool project, which assists the groups in developing business plans and raising start-up capital.
The project asks physicians to submit business plans to a panel consisting of financial industry representatives and consultants specializing in physician networks. The panel will either suggest changes to the business plans or steer the physicians toward banks or investors that will fit their needs. The AMA will not supply any capital for the networks.
AMA officials working on the project said physicians typically find it difficult to borrow money or interest investors because they do not have adequate capital or equity.
"A lot of banks aren't even interested in physician ventures because they don't understand them, frankly," said Denise Andresen, AMA division counsel.
The head of an organization representing clinics agreed that physicians have difficulty raising seed money.
"I think they're going to fit a niche out there," said Frederick Wenzel, executive director and chief executive officer of the Medical Group Management Association, which represents 6,000 clinics.
But insurers object to the proliferation of physician-run managed-care groups.
"In many instances, they really are becoming insurers," said Chris Petersen, vice president for state and legal affairs at the Health Insurance Association of America. "If that's the case, we believe these companies should be regulated just like insurers."