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California regulators say
they’re getting close to setting rules about how long-managed care
patients have to wait to get doctor appointments. About 20 million
Californians will be affected by the new regulations.
The legislature passed the law requiring timely access to care back
in 2002. State regulators say it’s taken years to work things out with
HMOs and doctors.
The guidelines would require HMO members to be given a non-urgent medical appointment within ten business days.
Jerry Flanagan, with the non-profit group Consumer Watchdog, said that sounds pretty good.
"But, you know it’s not necessarily what people paid for," Flanagan
said. "What’s in the mind of the consumer when they buy that insurance
contract is that they’re going to be able to call up their insurance
company or their local doctor, and get an appointment in the next
couple of days."
State regulators say the guidelines could be issued by the end of the year.