Eleven weeks after it was directed by its members to create a union for employed doctors, the American Medical Association late last week disclosed a name, constitution and partial governing body for the labor organization.
Details of how the organization, called Physicians for Responsible Negotiations, will be structured and when it will begin operating were not included in the AMA's written announcement. The unhasty start could reflect the reluctance of the AMA's leadership to move full throttle into the collective-bargaining arena.
The AMA House of Delegates voted June 23 to create a union against the strident wishes of the AMA board. Immediately after the vote, then-board Chairman Randolph Smoak, M.D., said the board would have a plan of action to create the union within 30 days (June 28, p. 2). As of last week, no timetable for the organization had been released publicly.
Five people-all current or former AMA officials-were appointed as members of a PRN governing committee. They will choose up to seven additional committee members. Appointed were Vice President for Legislative Affairs Ross Rubin; Vice President for Private Sector Advocacy Todd Vande Hey; trustees Susan Hershberg Adelman, M.D., and John C. Nelson, M.D.; and former resident trustee Andrew Thomas, M.D.
The constitution's preamble states, in part, that the PRN will "advocate on behalf of our members, with their employers and others, as the law allows, to create and maintain a healthcare system that guarantees all our members a working atmosphere where they can devote the time and attention their patients need."
The AMA has said that current law does not allow independent physicians to negotiate collectively with health plans and that its union would not strike.
The acronym PRN is widely understood among physicians to mean "as needed," the AMA said. "The principles behind PRN-a commitment to the highest quality care, patients' rights and no strikes or actions that would compromise patient care-are in stark contrast to traditional trade union actions," said AMA President Thomas Reardon, M.D., in the written statement.