HMO REFORM: Davis’ Remarks Shock Consumer Advocates
Gov. Gray Davis, commenting on HMO reform Tuesday, "sounded a lot like Republican lawmakers and their allies in the health care industry," the Orange County Register reports. Remarks that "chastised Congress for meddling in the affairs of HMOs" left many consumer advocates "shocked," and "raised eyebrows" among others. Davis said lawmakers are "constantly passing laws that, frankly, affect the cost of providing services, which forces premiums to go up, which creates patient dissatisfaction." The Register reports that Davis also indicated that he would be supportive of HMO reforms but not until managed care had time to fix itself. "If it's clear that HMOs will not get ahead of the curve and act in a way that shows considerable interest in the patients whose health care they're obligated to provide, then we'll respond. But my preference is that they meet with patients, consumer groups, various health care providers and see if as a coalition they can't achieve a new consensus."
Time to Talk?
Betsy Imholz, director of Consumer's Union California division, said she was "stunned." And state Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont), who has sponsored legislation giving consumers the right to sue their HMOs, "said the time for talk has long since passed" and said there will be "an educational process" to "bring the governor along and provide him the history" of some of the battles between the industry and consumers. United Health Care lobbyist Les Spahn said he was "gratified" by Davis' remarks. The Register reports that Spahn said the governor "seemed to be getting the message the industry has put forth in meetings with the governor's advisors, who are preparing a plan that Davis is expected to disclose next month" (Bunis/Weintraub, 2/24).