HMO REGULATION: Insurance Commissioner Candidates Take A Stand
Today's Wall Street Journal/California Edition highlights the views of state insurance commissioner candidates on regulating the state's HMOs through the Department of Insurance rather than the Department of Corporations, the agency that currently has authority over managed care plans.Hal Brown (D), a "Marin County supervisor and independent insurance broker," said that if regulation of HMOs was moved to the Department of Insurance he would "work with the CEOS of the HMOs, consumer groups, doctors, nurses and citizen representatives to devise a plan that actually provides for real reform," without "crippl[ing] the profits of the HMOs." Brown added that Californians should have the right to "emergency treatment; hospital stays that HMOs can't 'arbitrarily limit'; mammograms and other screening tests; and any medication 'that your doctor believes will help you the most.'" State Assemblywoman Diane Martinez (D-Rosemead) emphasized her sponsorship of legislation (AB 2556) to regulate HMOs through the Insurance Department. As commissioner, she said her "first priority would be to review the levels of care provided by HMOs to ensure they were adequate, and then examine the rate structures" of the plans. She said she also would hold public hearings to examine "the myriad problems caused by HMOs." Incumbent Chuck Quackenbush (R) said his priority "is to ensure fair claims-settlement practices," noting that during his term as commissioner he has "fined carrier three times more than [his] predecessor did in his entire term." "HMO regulation must ensure that sick people get their claims paid on time," he said (Lifsher, 5/13).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.