The Massachusetts Medical Society today testified before a state legislative committee in favor of a new bill that could allow doctors to collectively negotiate with health insurers without violating federal antitrust law.
Under the bill, state officials using the federal "state action" doctrine would oversee negotiations between physicians and health plans, and thus exempt the process from the federal antitrust law, the medical society says in a release this morning.
But even if it passes, the exemption is not a sure thing, according to federal authorities. While Texas and New Jersey have enacted collective negotiation legislation, the Federal Trade Commission has opposed similar bills in Ohio, Washington state and Alaska.
The FTC said in an October 2002 statement that the Ohio bill "likely would increase health care costs and reduce access to care, without ensuring better care for patients."
In its testimony today, the Massachusetts Medical Society said "the power of major health insurers has created a competitive imbalance, reducing competition and threatening the availability of quality health care."