Maintaining the physician’s independent medical judgment is critical. It ensures that a patient’s medical needs come before the hospital or governmental entity’s business needs. If the physician were to become an employee of a hospital, insurance company, or any other entity not licensed to practice medicine, the patient’s health and well-being could be compromised. Business considerations, not medical needs, could lead to poor patient care decisions.
Over time, the corporate practice of medicine doctrine has evolved. Medical schools may employ physicians, as can other physicians. Nonprofit health care corporations (commonly referred to as 501[a] corporations) sponsored by hospitals and hospital districts also may employ physicians. Under each of these avenues, however, a licensed physician or physicians are ultimately responsible for patient care. In the case of the 501(a) nonprofit corporation, even if the organizing entity is a hospital, that corporation must have a physician board of directors. Rules governing their operation are designed to ensure that physicians remain in charge of medical decisions.
Medicine’s 2009 Agenda
- Oppose efforts to broaden the corporate practice of medicine beyond the current exceptions for medical schools, 501(a) corporations, and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs).
- Require the Texas Medical Board to maintain current information on the sponsorship, governance, and membership of 501(a) corporations.
Check out the Doctor’s Orders video to get a more complete view of TMA’s 2009 legislative agenda.
See all of TMA’s legislative issue briefs in the Governmental Affairs section of the TMA Web site.