This article focuses on three key reasons that the corporate practice of medicine doctrine should be laid to rest. First, the motives for creating the corporate practice of medicine doctrine are long gone; it has been some time since physicians have been able to operate as a guild of autonomous providers of health care. The delivery and financing of health care places physicians in an integrated system that is only frustrated by the corporate practice of medicine doctrine. Second, it is disingenuous to pretend that physicians are not influenced by financial gain. This is handily evidenced by the federal and state prohibitions against physician self-referral and by the exodus from Medicare and Medicaid that is the result of ever-decreasing reimbursement rates. Third, the corporate practice of medicine doctrine does nothing to advance error-free, high quality health care and may actually inhibit improving the quality of health care. Recent reports by the Institute of Medicine demonstrate and emphasize this point.
In order to overcome the many manifestations of the state-based corporate practice of medicine doctrine, this article proposes federal legislation to effectuate alignment among the states on this issue. The goal is not to preempt states' oversight of licensure and health care quality, but simply to allow all doctors, whatever their venue, to practice in an integrated environment that will benefit patients and facilitate the continued development of this increasingly complex, specialized, and interconnected health care delivery system.
Nicole Huberfeld, Be Not Afraid of Change: Time to Eliminate the Corporate Practice of Medicine Doctrine, 14 Health Matrix 243 (2004).