Forty seven California patients, and relatives of patients, harmed by their HMO or insurer asked Governor Gray Davis today to meet face-to-face about their need for remedies against their HMOs. Unlike Davis, a public employee, the patients have no legal remedy against their HMOs, because they have private industry health coverage.
The invitation comes after Davis’ recent fundraiser sponsored by HMO executives, and a subsequent July 20th meeting of his HMO reform task force on patient rights consisting exclusively of legislators, HMO executives and business leaders, most of whom contributed to his campaign. The consensus of the group was that HMO liability should be limited.
In a letter today, the patients wrote “unlike us, the majority of those in the room [at the task force] either can sue an HMO for full damages, because they are public employees, or work for an HMO…Because you have yet to sit in a room with HMO patients, you fail to recognize that only the threat of significant damages changes HMO behavior and deters wrongdoing.”
The letter continued, “Whether you accept our invitation will be an important sign for the people of California. Your policies will naturally be a product of the rooms you sit in and the people you talk to. If your policies are to determine your legacy, and your fundraising does not shape your policies, consent to our request. Accept our invitation and agree that all patients deserve the same remedies you have as a public employee if you want to show that you are a servant of Californians.”
The patients asked the Governor to respond to the non-profit, non-partisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) in Santa Monica, by August 13, 1999. FTCR is the sponsor of SB 21 (Figueroa), which allows all patients the same right to sue their HMO for full damages as government employees have. Davis has purportedly said he would sign the bill only if it applied to the most seriously injured.