Davis Unveils Plan to Expand State’s Patients’ Rights Laws
Seeking to build on California's patients' rights laws passed in 1999, Gov. Gray Davis (D) on Aug. 29 announced a plan to protect patients who are "caught in the middle" of contract disputes between their doctors and managed care companies, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 8/30). Under the plan, if an MCO and doctors group terminate a contract, patients would be permitted to continue to receive care from their current physician in several circumstances, including:
- If a contract is not renewed, patients would be able to continue using their current physician and hospital until the next open enrollment period.
- If an MCO terminates a contract with an individual physician, children under age three, pregnant women, patients with terminal illnesses and those who had scheduled treatment prior to the contract termination can continue to see their physician.
In addition, the plan would increase the amount of time MCOs must notify beneficiaries of a change in primary care providers and medical groups from 30 days to 60 days. The plan also requires MCOs and doctors groups to have plans to transfer patients' medical records if the doctors group fails or the MCO and doctors group break a contract (Office of the Governor release, 8/29). Davis hopes to implement the plan by amending two patients' rights bills -- one by state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) (SB 103) and the other by Assembly member Helen Thomson (D-Davis) (AB 1522) -- pending in the state Legislature (San Francisco Chronicle, 8/30).
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