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    Bill would prohibit mandatory health insurance contracts

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    This article is part of an ongoing series from the American Association of Clinical Urologists (AACU), based on a partnership between the AACU and Urology Times. Articles are designed to provide monthly updates on state and federal legislative issues affecting urologists. We welcome your comments and suggestions about topics for future articles. Contact Ross Weber, state affairs manager, or Joe Arite, government relations manager, at 847-517-1050 or [email protected].

    A developing advocacy campaign in Washington state has the AACU Government Affairs team implementing the very practices described in this space and thereby urged upon urologists in seemingly ad nauseum Calls to Action.

    AACU Distinguished Leadership Award honoree Senator Randi Becker (R- Eatonville) introduced a bill to prohibit Washington state regulators from requiring physicians, nurses, and various other practitioners to contract with insurers or the state. SB 6270 specially provides "that health care professional licensees may not be required to participate in any public or private third-party reimbursement program."

    Health policy PhDs and medical board bureaucrats charge supporters of this initiative with seeking to shirk caring for Medicaid enrollees, just as the number of Americans eligible for that program increases exponentially and physician shortages are exacerbated. Medicaid is just one of the concerns in this regard. Indeed, Massachusetts lawmakers’ annual attempts to poison the Commonwealth’s practice act would not mandate participation in MassHealth (ie, "Medicaid on Steroids"), but rather "affordable business plans." What’s more, the undefined relationship between Medicaid and private plans offered by soon-to-be-created health insurance exchanges is cause for even greater concern when it comes to provider licensure, all-products clauses, and the viability of independent practice.

    While few in the real world would fault providers for avoiding pennies-on-the-dollar payment, this simple, one-sentence measure stands for much, much more.

    Lawmakers and regulators—federal and state, Democrat and Republican—have been convinced that coercion in the form of government mandates is necessary when it comes to health policy. The Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is just the most successful example.

    For more than 40 years, physicians have audaciously promoted medical practice freedom when attempts to mandate participation in public and private programs popped up from Alaska to Florida. Many of the recently enacted health care freedom statutes and constitutional amendments include a provision "freeing" physicians. Given those measures’ questionable standing, however, physicians and legislators such as Senator Becker, Virginia Delegate Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach), and U.S. Representative Tom Price, MD (R-GA) are proactively seeking "protections against further encroachment on the rights of patients and their doctors."

    To learn more about legislative issues in your state, please visit AACU’s Action Center today at www.aacuweb.org.

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