PATIENTS’ RIGHTS: Consumer Advocate Takes Issue With Post
A consumer advocate takes issue with Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz's recent article that reexamined several cases of alleged managed care abuses (see CHL 8/11). In his article, Kurtz reported that insurers believe reports about "HMO abuses" are often one-sided, neglecting the complex issues involved in managing patients' care. But in a letter to the Post, Andrew Pontious of California-based Consumers for Quality Care notes that "[p]remium-paying, policy-holding consumers never have shared the same media leverage enjoyed by the insurance industry, which spends tens of millions of dollars annually on advertising." Pontious writes that managed care consumers "have been forced to seek out advocates on their own in order to get their stories heard," and the "guerilla" tactics employed by poorly funded consumer groups" are the only responses available to patients competing against the astronomical advertising budgets of HMOs." He concludes, "Reporter Howard Kurtz points out how the insurance industry believes 'the use of emotional anecdotes is unfair.' However, when patients are injured by their HMOs, emotions are, of course, going to run high. Mr. Kurtz and legislators would very much like to turn away from these emotions, but those of us working for patients' rights will not allow them to" (8/18).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.