The American Medical Association's House of Delegates voted to oppose an extension of an 18-month federal moratorium on new physician investment in specialty hospitals, adopting a policy that "supports and encourages competition between healthcare facilities." The AMA is the first big national medical association to take a formal stand on the issue. Its new policy pits the group against the American Hospital Association, which is lobbying for a permanent ban on physician investment in specialty hospitals or an extension of the moratorium, slated to expire June 7, 2005.
In other action at its midyear advocacy meeting in Atlanta, the House of Delegates asked the AMA board of trustees to continue studying another controversial topic -- surcharges on patient bills to defray medical-malpractice insurance costs. The board endorsed the practice in a recent report and is expected to bring the matter up at the AMA's annual meeting in June, officials said. -- by Michael Romano