those of state governments to ensure consistency between these benefit packages and those of Medigap insurance.

Recommendation 5

The committee is concerned about the increasing restrictions on physicians (and the potential conflict of interest of physicians) when they act in their professional role as advocates for their patients and carry out their contractual responsibilities and receive economic incentives as health plan providers. The committee favors the abolition of payment incentives or other practices that may motivate providers to evade their ethical responsibility to provide complete information to their patients about their illness, treatment options, and plan coverages. So-called anticriticism clauses or gag rules should be prohibited as a condition of plan participation.

Physicians and Professionalism

Findings

The committee recognizes that physicians' advice to beneficiaries is a quintessential part of ensuring informed choice. Because of the inherently personal nature of the physician-patient relationship and its special importance to elderly patients, the committee is concerned about the increasing restrictions on physicians (and the potential conflict of interest of physicians) when they act in their professional role as advocates for their patients and carry out their contractual responsibilities and receive economic incentives as health plan providers. The committee is particularly concerned about reported contractual restrictions (such as anticriticism clauses) on physicians acting in their professional role as a source of advice to their patients. Physicians must maintain their freedom to talk to their patients with full honesty about the clinical aspects of their care and treatment options.



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