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American Academy of Emergency Medicine

AAEM Joins Coalition of Other Physician Associations in Support of ACHP

Source: ACHP, May 17, 2000

As the Affiliated Community Healthcare Physicians (ACHP) prepares to go to trial in July against Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) and Emergency Physicians Medical Group (EPMG), the San Francisco Superior Court has received into file an amici curiae brief from the California Medical Association (CMA), the California Society of Anesthesiologists (CSA), the California Society of Pathologists (CSP), the California Radiological Society (CRS), and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) and their California Chapter (CAL/AAEM) in support of ACHP's lawsuit challenging the legality of the merger of EPMG into CHW.

In a letter to ACHP's president, Steve Shea, MD, CSA's president, R. Lawrence Sullivan, MD, wrote: "We [CSA] believe the outcome of this case could have far-reaching effects on other hospital-based physicians, and are in strong support of your efforts.This is not the only instance in recent times where the bar on the corporate practice of medicine has been challenged, and we believe it must be vigorously defended."

ACHP is a growing nonprofit association of emergency physicians, anesthesiologists, radiologists, pathologists, and other physicians and related healthcare professionals who believe in preserving the physician's right and ability to provide cost-effective, high-quality healthcare services as an independent contracting partner within the hospital setting. Originally founded as the Affiliated Catholic Healthcare Physicians, ACHP changed its name to reflect the increasing diversity of its physician and non-physician members, while continuing to embrace a mission that seeks to enable its members to remain independent as they deliver healthcare services that honor the dignity of every person serve.

Confronted in 1997 with the surprise announcement by CHW that it planned to acquire EPMG, ACHP launched an extensive investigation into the CHW-EPMG deal. ACHP's findings showed this deal to be the first step for CHW, a five billion dollar multistate hospital system, to "getting into the physician business-a physician business that is really at the core for us [CHW] as an organization," quoting CHW's chief medical officer in 1997. CHW purchased EPMG for a reported $36 million, and as a result of the merger, a steady stream of profits derived from physician incomes is expected to flow back to CHW.

Concluding this to be a bad deal for all hospital-based physicians-not just those in CHW hospitals but everywhere, should this deal be allowed to stand and be duplicated by every other multi-hospital system-ACHP filed suit to block the merger of CHW and EPMG, citing possible fee-splitting, corporate practice of medicine violations, and coercive business practices. ACHP's lawsuit requests judicial review of the legality of the CHW-EPMG merger, and if found to be illegal, dissolution of the deal. No claim for any damages accompanies this action.

AAEM encourages every concerned physician to join in supporting their action to overturn the CHW-EPMG deal, thus preserving the right of physicians to freely contract with hospitals. Additional information may be found on ACHP's website www.achpmed.org or by contacting ACHP's headquarters office at (213) 612-3613.