The American Group Practice Association and the Unified Medical Group Association are nearing a possible merger.
The two associations, which represent large multispecialty medical groups, began talking about a consolidation more than a year ago (Feb. 27, 1995, p. 10).
UMGA President James Hillman said he hopes to put a merger proposal to a vote by his members before their annual meeting in June. AGPA Executive Vice President Donald Fisher couldn't be reached for comment last week.
A previous merger attempted by the AGPA and the Englewood, Colo.-based Medical Group Management Association, which represents administrators of physician groups of all sizes, fell apart in 1994.
The AGPA and the UMGA could be a better match because they share similar philosophies. For instance, both groups oppose "any-willing-provider" laws and other legislation that would impede exclusive contracting.
The UMGA has about 90 capitated medical groups, mostly on the West Coast. The AGPA represents about 250 groups.
AGPA members would benefit from the UMGA's actuarial database for capitation. The UMGA lacks a presence in Washington, where the AGPA has a strong lobbying effort.
The groups would have to reconcile their membership criteria. Unlike the AGPA, the UMGA is restricted to groups that participate in prepaid health plans.
Many AGPA members are strictly fee-for-service. However, many fee-for-service groups recognize a need to reduce utilization, even in markets where employers reject the entry of prepaid plans, said Kathy Kenyon, the AGPA's counsel and director of health policy analysis.