A Union For Doctors?
Effective June 24, 1999, the American Medical Association (AMA) voted to form a labor union on behalf of doctors. Apparently doctors have had it with managed care and feel like they need some help, which they can get through strength in numbers. This signals the profound discontent of many of the 700,000 physicians in the United States over the direction of the nations health care system, (June 1999, Washington Post). Under the current system, the managed care programs decide what fees to charge to patients and decide what are fair and reasonable amounts to charge for various procedures. If a doctor is dissatisfied with a fee being charged, they currently have to do battle with the HMO. Unfortunately, when a physician has a complaint they feel like it is them against the managed care company. In theory, having a union will give doctors a collective bar gaining strength they currently do not have.
If this union concept succeeds the practice of medicine will be much different. For years, doctors have been self-employed and operated their respective practices under the free market economy. If unionized, will doctors go on strike when their demands are not met? How does a union mesh with the Hippocratic oath? These are just a few unanswered questions.
More importantly, the big question is how will medicine being mechanized into a typical business effect the quality of care patients receive? While doctors spend time campaigning for higher wages, and better working conditions, will they still have time to keep up on the latest procedures and treatments? Will they have a preoccupation with the business of medicine causing them to lose sight on the moral obligations and gratifications of being a healer? With the inception of a union for doctors, will patients be forced to experience the crossing of angry picket lines of doctors to gain admittance to a hospital? Sounds a little crazy; but then again so does a union for physicians.
It is now 2007 and the problem is worse. Doctors are still helpless. Whats next?
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