The American College of Physicians Asks the Government to Stay Out of Health Care

Friday, December 28, 2012

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

In light of some recently passed laws around the country, the American College of Physicians (ACP) took a stance against government involvement in the doctor-patient relationship. The ACP released a statement in July of 2012, outlining the role of government regulation in health care. In an American Medical News article, the president of the ACP stated this document needs to be taken into consideration when elected officials are deciding on laws regarding health care.

Click here to read the entire article from American Medical News.

The Importance of an Open Doctor-Patient Relationship.

The top priority for physicians and all health care providers is the patient. According to an article on Fierce Practice Management, the ability for doctors and patients to have open and confidential conversations is the cornerstone of a successful health care system. The ACP guidelines stress that physicians should have the freedom to communicate with patients as they see fit, assess situations on a case-by-case basis, acknowledge that science may change overtime and not be subject to stress from government regulations. Basically the ACP is telling lawmakers that they want to be left alone to do their jobs without having to worry about government interference.

To read the Fierce Practice Management article, click here.

Specific Laws from Around the Country.

Several states have passed or are in the process of passing laws that inhibit the conversation between physicians and their patients.

An article in Med Page Today lists specific examples of these laws.

Proposed legislation in Alaska would allow patients and families to override a physician’s do-not-resuscitate order.

Women seeking an abortion in Arizona must have an ultrasound 24 hours before the procedure.

Florida health care providers are prohibited from asking their patients questions about gun safety.

To read more examples of these types of laws, click here.

Seven Questions the ACP Wants Lawmakers to Ask.

The full statement from the ACP offers lawmakers a series of questions to ask when writing legislation to reform or change the health care system. These questions were written to help officials consider the appropriateness of a law and its potential impact.

 1.  Is the content and information or care consistent with the best available medical evidence on clinical effectiveness and appropriateness and professional standards of care?

 2.  Is the proposed law or regulation necessary to achieve public health objectives that directly affect the health of the individual patient, as well as population health, as supported by scientific evidence, and if so, is there any other reasonable way to achieve the same objectives?

 3.  Could the presumed basis for a governmental role be better addressed through advisory clinical guidelines developed by professional societies?

 4.  Does the content and information or care allow for flexibility based on individual patient circumstances and on the most appropriate time, setting, and means of delivering such information or care?

 5.  Is the proposed law or regulation required to achieve a public policy goal–such as protecting public health or encouraging access to needed medical care – without preventing physicians from addressing the healthcare needs of individual patients during specific clinical encounters based on the patients’ own circumstances, and with minimal interference to patient-physician relationships?

 6.  Does the content and information to be provided facilitate shared decision-making between patients and their physicians, based on the best medical evidence, the physician's knowledge and clinical judgment, and patient values (beliefs and preferences), or would it undermine shared decision-making by specifying content that is forced upon patients and physicians without regard to the best medical evidence, the physician’s clinical judgment and the patient’s wishes?

 7.  Is there a process for appeal to accommodate for specific circumstances or changes in medical standards of care?

Click here to read the full statement from the ACP.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.
At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers and acquisitions.
The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, business transactions, professional license defense, representation in investigations, credential defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings.
To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at


What do you think of government’s involvement in the doctor-patient relationship? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.


Fiegl, Charles. “Physicians Resist States’ Interference in Practice of Medicine.” American Medical News. (August 27, 2012). From:

Beaulieu, Debra. “ACP Tells Government to Stay Out of Doctor-Patient Relationship.” Fierce Practice Management. (August 15, 2012). From:

Fiore, Kristina. “ACP Tackles Gov’t Intrusion in Doctor-Patient Relationship.” Med Page Today. (August 10, 2012). From:

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.

Tag Words: Doctor, physician, patient relationship, government in health care, American College of Physicians (ACP), health care, health attorney, health lawyer, administrative law, defense attorney, defense lawyer

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