Texas Sponsor Of HMO Liability Law Touts Its Success; Medical Assoc. Delegate Calls It Good Medicine For CA

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Davis Urged To Join Bush and Clinton In Supporting HMO Liability

Dr. Martin Guerrero, a Texas Medical Association delegate and emergency room physician, today told California legislators about the success of a landmark 1997 Texas HMO liability that his group sponsored — saying that it had limited health care costs, resulted in few lawsuits but is vital in compelling HMOs to approve medically necessary care.

“My patients have seen a tremendous benefit since the HMO liability law was passed,” said Guerrero. “From my E.R. perspective, patients are getting the needed care they were denied before the law passed. HMOs are more aware of their potential exposure and more likely to defer to doctors’ judgement. Texas has seen smaller health care premium increases than the nation even though we have this law and there have only been three lawsuits filed. Still HMOs are getting the message. Californians would be well served by such a law.”

State Senator Liz Figueroa, author of California HMO liability legislation SB 21, and Jamie Court, director of Consumers For Quality Care, sponsor of SB 21, called upon Governor Gray Davis to heed the Texas lesson and sign SB 21. The bill passed the Senate and the Assembly Judiciary Committee. It will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee Wednesday before moving to the floor.

SB 21 extends to patients with private industry coverage the same right to sue for damages that public employees now have.

“The Texas example affords Governor Gray Davis and legislators the knowledge that holding HMOs accountable for their wrongdoing will not result in any of the apocalyptic consequences the HMO lobby projects,” said Court. “If public employees have not abused the HMO liability right they have, patients with private industry coverage will not abuse the process either. Governor Davis as a centrist should join George W. Bush and President Clinton in supporting these reforms.”


Consumer Watchdog
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