PATIENTS’ RIGHTS: HMOs, Businesses Oppose Anti-Arbitration Measure
California HMOs and business groups are decrying a new bill, AB 1751, introduced Thursday by Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) that would bar managed care companies from including mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts to prevent patients from suing in court, the Scripps-McClatchy News Service/Contra Costa Times reports. Calling the measure an "effort by personal injury attorneys to win bigger cash awards and pave the way for eliminating mandatory arbitration in other industries," executives are arguing that the measure would result in skyrocketing health care costs. Walter Zelman, president of the California Association of Health Plans, said, "Everybody else will have to pay for defending against the $50 or $100 million judgment that might be out there. I don't think that is a good public policy tradeoff so that one or two people and their attorneys can find a pot of gold" (Hoge, 1/14). But Jamie Court of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights maintained that "patients should not have to sign away their right to trial just to get health care, and today they do" (Garrett, Los Angeles Times, 1/16).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.