CHICAGO -- Physician practice groups are beginning to find that tax-exempt bonds are a miracle cure for their expansion woes, according to credit analysts and investment bankers.

Practice groups, which can range in size from 25 doctors to 500 or more, are gaining clout in an era of managed care. Health care experts say the country's 3,500 physician groups are profitable because they can hold down perpatient costs and control coveted hospital referrals under many health maintenance organization plans.

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