FPA MEDICAL MANAGEMENT: Under Fire For Pressuring Docs
"FPA Medical Management Inc. is again under fire from local doctors, this time for signaling that medical specialists can collect money for past claims only if they sign a new contract cutting future pay," the Sacramento Business Journal reports. One physician, Dr. Terry Zimmerman, said FPA has not paid him for services rendered as long as two years ago. He said when he refused to sign a new contract with FPA, he "got paid less than he thinks he's due." According to Zimmerman, FPA sent him a letter saying it would settle his outstanding payments when he signed a new contract -- one that "would pay him only 80% of what Medicare pays for the procedure, far below the 115% of Medicare he originally was offered by FPA." According to the Business Journal, Zimmerman is "not alone" in his complaints against the medical management company. The Sacramento Legal Foundation for Healthcare Rights is currently investigating "similar complaints by other doctors." Michael Mattoch, an attorney for the California Medical Association who does pro bono work for the legal foundation, said, "It's gotten the attention of the foundation -- and it's not an isolated incident."
"It appears a couple of things are happening, and they are pretty disturbing," Mattoch said. He said FPA "appears to be leveraging future contracts with back amounts due," as well as forcing doctors to accept pay cuts in order to get a contract. However, FPA spokesperson Angela Rivera disagreed, saying, "The old ... claims, tied to old contracts, had serious errors. We are asking doctors to sign new contracts that we can administer more effectively. But it's not a matter of we'll pay if you sign." According to Rivera, all 100 of FPA's primary care doctors and 80 specialists have signed new contracts. "We feel Dr. Zimmerman is an isolated matter," she said. However, Bill Sandberg, head of the Sacramento-El Dorado Medical Society, said, "For them to insinuate (Zimmerman) would have to sign a new contract to collect past-due money is deplorable. I expect other physicians have encountered this and simply exhausted themselves" (Robertson, 4/6 issue).