The WSMA strongly believes that competition between and among physicians and other health care practitioners on the basis of competitive factors such as quality of services, skill, experience, miscellaneous conveniences offered to patients, credit terms, fees charged, etc..., is not only ethical but is encouraged. Ethical medical practice thrives best under free market conditions when prospective patients have adequate information and opportunity to choose freely between and among competing physicians and alternate systems of medical care. (JC 6.13-87; Res C-12, A-04) (Reaffirmed A-17)
The WSMA: (1) encourages the growth and development of the physician/patient contract; (2) favors a pluralistic health care delivery system which includes fee-for-service medicine, and will lobby for the elimination of any restrictions and physician penalties for provision of fee-for-service medicine by a physician to a consenting patient; including patients covered under Medicare; and (3) defends fee-for-service payment as a reasonable, cost-effective way of reimbursing for medical services when the fee is paid by the recipient of the service with insurance reimbursement to the patient.
(Res C-12, A-04) (Reaffirmed A-17)
The WSMA: (1) supports a pluralistic approach to third-party payment methodology under fee-for-service, and does not support a preference for "usual and customary or reasonable" or any other specific payment methodology; (2) affirms the following four principles: (a) Physicians have the right to establish their fees at a level which they believe fairly reflects the costs of providing a service and the value of their professional judgment. (b) Physicians should continue to volunteer fee information to patients, to discuss fees in advance of service where feasible, to expand the practice of accepting any third-party allowances as payment in full in cases of financial hardship, and to communicate voluntarily to their patients their willingness to make appropriate arrangements in cases of financial need. (c) Physicians should have the right to choose the basic mechanism of payment for their services, and specifically to choose whether or not to participate in a particular insurance plan or method of payment, and to accept or decline a third-party allowance as payment in full for a service. (d) All methods of physician payment should incorporate mechanisms to foster increased cost-awareness by both providers and recipients of service; and (3) supports modification of current legal restrictions, so as to allow meaningful involvement by physician groups in: (a) negotiations on behalf of those physicians who do not choose to accept third-party allowances as full payment, so that the amount of such allowances can be more equitably determined; (b) establishing additional limits on the amount or the rate of increase in charge-related payment levels when appropriate. (Reaffirmed A-19)
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Abbreviations for House of Delegates report origination:
EC – Executive Committee; BT – Board of Trustees; CPA – Council on Professional Affairs; JC – Judicial Council; CHS – Community and Health Services