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Back To Vidyya Collective Bargaining Legislation For Doctors Passes House

Physicians' Union Urges Sentate To Follow In House's Steps

The Federation of Physicians and Dentists applauded the United States House of Representatives for passing the Campbell-Conyers Bill, (HR 1304) by a vote of 276 to 136. It called upon the Senate leadership to schedule a vote on this pivotal legislation immediately after its July 4th recess.

HR 1304, "The Quality Health Care Coalition Act" would enable independent health professionals to engage in collective bargaining with health insurers. It was sponsored by Rep. Tom Campbell (R-Ca) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mi), and was adopted by a comfortable bi-partisan majority.

"People want their doctors to re-establish their ability to provide the best health care available," said Jack Seddon, FPD Executive Director. "This vote sends a clear message to health insurers and to those who tried to do their bidding by delaying the vote. Patients know they have rights and they trust their physicians to exercise them on their behalf."

FPD lead a national lobbying effort to force a vote on the bill, over the delaying tactics of the House GOP leadership which was lobbied hard by health insurers opposed to the measure.

The House recessed when the final tally had been recorded -- after 2 a.m. -- with Representatives Campbell and Conyers praising their colleagues (and each other) for having demonstrated leadership through passage of this bill without encumbering amendments. Among those rejected amendments was a "right to work" clause that would have gutted the intent of the bill to level the playing field when doctors and insurers negotiate.

"Doctors must not be forced to sign take-it-or-leave-it contracts," said Michael Connair, MD, FPD Vice President. "As a practicing orthopedic surgeon in Connecticut, I have been fighting health insurers' ability to dictate my terms of employment. Passage of this bill will help me overcome unnecessary hassles from insurance company clerks who don't understand medicine."

"If a Patient's Bill of Rights is passed, Campbell-Conyers will serve as an ongoing mechanism to enforce patient rights, to give physicians the power to help prevent HMOs from inventing new ways to limit care and compromise quality and access. The Patient's Bill of Rights and the Campbell-Conyers Bill complement each other, but are not substitutes for each other," said Dr. Connair.

FPD Regional Coordinator Robert B. Sklaroff, MD, a Philadelphia Oncologist-Hematologist, said, "I am proud of the House for listening to and acting upon the complaints of millions of patients and doctors. This bill establishes a workable mechanism to restructure the health care delivery system and balance the interests of patients, doctors and insurers.

The Federation of Physicians and Dentists, headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida, is affiliated with the National Union of Hospitals and Health Care Employees (NUHHCE, AFSCME), and represents thousands of non-salaried and salaried physicians and other health care professionals throughout the country.

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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