BLUE CROSS: Doctors Say Insurer Sent Patients Elsewhere
Physicians at Brent Street Family Practice in Ventura are charging that money was the motive behind a letter sent by Blue Cross' California Care HMO "directing 380 of their patients to go to other doctors." But a Blue Cross spokesperson said Friday afternoon that Blue Cross told the patients they were "free to go back" to the practice, adding that the original directive "had nothing to do with finances." The letter told patients the HMO was changing doctors "to ensure the quality of all our members' care" and to ensure "the right kind of care from the right kind of provider." The Los Angeles Times reports that Dr. Robert Dodge, a physician in the practice, said patients were "irate" with the insurer's change of providers. "All we want is to go to our doctor. We trust his judgment," said patient Sharon Velasquez. Blue Cross spokesperson Elise Anderson said the switch "was an anomaly that is easily corrected." The Times reports that the recent bankruptcy of FPA Medical Management Inc. is to blame for the "fleeting controversy." Dodge and his partners contract with FPA, among other physician management groups. Some HMOs are reassigning patients to their doctors through groups other than FPA, but Blue Cross is not. "It's a mess, but some of the insurances -- like Health Net and Blue Shield -- are very doctor friendly," Dodge said. "They're putting the patients' interests first," he added, charging that Blue Cross is not (Kelley, 7/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.