AMA Says Health Insurers Should Have To Update Network Provider Lists
State attorneys general should require that lists of in-network providers provided to members of managed care plans are accurate and up-to-date, American Medical Association delegates said at the organization's annual meeting in Chicago on Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Delegates expressed concern about "incorrect or deceptive information in [insurers'] lists of network physicians" and said the insurance companies should be required to correct inaccurate lists, the Tribune reports. Members said that in some cases physicians are not listed under the correct specialty category, are listed but no longer practicing or are not listed at all. According to the Tribune, physicians from Connecticut and California "were the most vocal about the situation."
AMA President-elect William Plested said, "Physicians are concerned that managed care companies are misleading patients with erroneous or artificially inflated lists of participating physicians."
Mohit Ghose, vice president of public affairs for America's Health Insurance Plans, said, "Our members continue to make a good-faith effort to provide the most accurate information on their physician networks to consumers" (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 6/23).
AMA also took the following actions.
- Alcohol tax: AMA approved a resolution under which it will lobby for higher taxes on alcohol. The taxes should be based on the amount of alcohol per beverage rather than alcohol by volume, AMA said. Research suggests that tax increases "lead to lower alcohol consumption rates among adults and youth, fewer binge-drinking episodes and lower traffic fatality rates," a committee told the delegates (Tanner, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/22).
- Antidepressants: AMA voted to urge FDA to evaluate whether warning labels on antidepressants about a link between the drugs and suicide risk have altered the way physicians and young patients use the drugs (Campbell, Newark Star-Ledger, 6/23).
- Childhood obesity: AMA adopted new policies to strengthen its campaign against childhood obesity, such as urging physicians to include waist measurements in routine exams of children (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 6/22).
- President-elect: Plested, a thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon from California, was voted president-elect. He will assume the presidency in June 2006, replacing J. Edward Hill, a family physician from Mississippi. Hill was inaugurated as the 160th president of AMA this week (Japsen, Chicago Tribune, 6/23).
- Tanning and video games: AMA voted to support a federal ban on minors using tanning salons and a push for increased labeling to allow only adults to purchase violent video games.
In related news, columnist Steve Chapman writes in a Chicago Tribune opinion piece that a "presumed consent" system of organ donation is "a nice euphemism for something that falls well short of real consent" (Chapman, Chicago Tribune, 6/23). AMA on Monday called for a study on the practice, under which anyone who dies would be considered an organ donor automatically unless the deceased has previously registered an objection (California Healthline, 6/21).
Although "something needs to be done" about the shortage of organs available for transplant, people in the United States "are not likely to react positively to the ghoulish notion that the government has presumptive title to their remains," Chapman writes. Instead, the government should pay people to "hand over their organs," he writes.
Chapman says he supports a proposal to pay people $1,000 to agree to donate their organs, under which the "number of volunteers would quickly rise to meet demand." He concludes, "some skeptics think organ donation is too noble a cause to leave to the market," but it is really "too important not to" (Chicago Tribune, 6/23).