The sponsor of California’s new HMO liability law, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, called upon Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives, who are slowing down a vote on HMO liability reform, to look to their GOP brethren in California. Republican legislators in California overwhelmingly supported HMO liability legislation to be signed soon by Governor Davis.
The 80 person California Assembly passed SB 21 (Figueroa), which allows all patients who are significantly harmed by an HMO to sue for damages, by a vote of 71 to 3. The 40 person California Senate supported the measure 22 to 9. In the Assembly, where members are re-elected every two years, 25 Republicans supported the measure.
“California Republicans who are up for re-election soon could not oppose establishing HMO liability because of the overwhelming popular support for the right to sue in California where nine out of ten insured patients are in managed care,” said Jamie Court, FTCR’s advocacy director. “Ultimately Republicans in Congress will have to follow the lead of Republican legislators in California. If that comes later rather than sooner, the party will continue to lose seats. This issue is popular dynamite in states like California where HMO medicine has taken over the health care system. If Republicans in Congress do not realize this, it could blow them away.”