As we move closer to the start of the 2011 Texas Legislature, I want to remind you of TMA’s positions on key issues. I’ll start today with corporate employment of physicians. TMA’s long-standing policy in opposition to the corporate practice of medicine remains unchanged. At the heart of the issue is protecting the patient-physician relationship. The direct employment of physicians by hospitals and other corporations — outside the jurisdiction of the Texas Medical Board (TMB) — threatens patient care and physicians’ clinical decision making.
In 2011, we will continue to oppose efforts to allow hospitals and corporate entities to directly employ physicians. We will support efforts to strengthen TMB oversight of existing employment exceptions. At the same time, we recognize that many rural hospitals see direct employment as a solution to recruiting physicians to their communities. TMA believes the state should identify and correct barriers to physicians locating in medically underserved areas, such as payment formulas and incentives.
Physicians should work for the patient not the insurance company, hospital, or anyone else not directly responsible for the care of the patient. Tools currently exist for corporate entities and counties to recruit new physicians to their communities without eliminating the private practice of medicine.
TMB has the ultimate authority to regulate the practice of medicine in Texas on behalf of all our patients. The state should look to TMB not only to maintain high standards of ethical practice but also to establish mechanisms and processes that protect physicians’ responsibility to make clinical decisions in the best interest of their patients.