MANAGED CARE REFORM: Health Access Kicks Off Campaign for Passage
Health Access of California today kicked off a campaign to pass its Patient Bill of Rights. HAC "has fought for HMO patient rights for more than two years, this third time will be a charm," HAC President Frances Gracechild said. "This year we are pushing to enact the remaining key elements of the package: guaranteed second opinion, better consumer advocacy, accountability for medical directors and HMOs, important protections for Medicare HMO enrollees and more," she said. Backed by the AARP, the Latino Issues Forum, the Congress of California, labor unions and other organizations, HAC is supporting the following patient protections:
- Assemblywoman Susan Davis's (D-San Diego) AB 12 that would guarantee HMO enrollees second medical opinions.
- State Sen. Liz Figueroa's (D-Fremont) SB 18 that would make HMO medical directors liable and subject to discipline in the same way that doctors are.
- Assemblyman Don Perata's (D-Oakland) SB 59 that would revamp the utilization process by which HMOs review and deny payment.
- State Sen. Hilda Solis' (D-El Monte) SB 97 that would provide whistleblower protection for health care workers who speak out against unsafe care.
- Solis' second reform bill, SB 64 that would require HMOs to cover equipment necessary to manage diabetes.
- Assemblyman Martin Gallegos (D-Baldwin Park) proposed AB 549 that would make public the criteria that HMOs use for denying care.
- Assemblyman Kevin Shelley's (D-San Francisco) AB 142 and Gallegos' AB 138 that would create an independent consumer advocate to help consumers navigate their HMOs' grievance processes.
- State Sen. Jackie Speier's (D-San Mateo) SB 169 and Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes' (D-San Joaquin) AB 936 that would require HMOs dropping out of Medicare to phase out consumers smoothly.
- Speier's SB 254 would require HMOs to establish an independent review panel of health experts to quickly resolve consumers' concerns.
- HAC would also support a measure giving consumers the right to sue their HMOs, but has not endorsed any specific bills yet (HAC release, 3/17).