MEDICARE HMOS: Physicians’ Group Urges Seniors To Keep Away
Federal officials are reviewing a campaign launched last week by a Long Island doctors group that hopes to persuade Medicare beneficiaries to avoid HMOs. The North Shore Physician Organization, a 1,000-doctor network on Long Island, NY, is using newspaper ads and tabletop displays in doctors' offices to spread its message and "allay confusion about recent changes in the Medicare market." The text of the ad reads, "Attention Senior Citizens: Don't give up your traditional Medicare benefits! Your traditional Medicare benefits provide you with unlimited choice of doctors and hospitals whose only priority is making sure you receive the medical treatment you need. Medicare HMO managed care programs mean limited choice of doctors and hospitals where saving the HMO's money becomes part of the medical treatment decision-making. Traditional Medicare -- where the patient is still in charge." Dr. Stephen LaSala, head of the organization, "denied an economic motive, even though Medicare HMOs are reducing reimbursement rates to local doctors." Judith Berek of the Health Care Financing Administration "said the material 'raises enough issues so that HCFA will investigate' ... and determine whether HCFA has legal authority to take action." Carol Hauptman, a spokesperson for North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, said, "If (physicians) can bring awareness and put pressure on insurers and the government, that's a big plus. If, however, their goal is to protect their incomes, that's a questionable goal as far as consumers are concerned" (Jaklevic, Modern Healthcare, 12/21-28 issue). Click here for previous American Health Line coverage of New York Medicare HMOs.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.