PATIENTS’ RIGHTS: Lawmakers Reject Davis’ Reform Proposal
Defying Gov. Gray Davis (D), state lawmakers rejected a proposal that would have "gutted one of the most important HMO reforms passed in California," the Los Angeles Times reports. Davis endorsed a bill that would have eliminated a provision allowing patients who suffer severe financial losses to circumvent an independent review process and directly sue their HMO. He argued that only those suffering physical harm should be allowed to sue. The measure died in the state Assembly Judiciary Committee on a bipartisan 3-8 vote. Consumer advocates hailed the legislators' decision. Jamie Court of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, said, "This [vote] is a signal to the governor that it's the Legislature's business to legislate and you cannot sign a bill and then change its provisions before the ink is dried. This was a classic case of the governor trying to implement his vision, and the Legislature said no." According to Davis spokesperson Hilary McClean, the governor believed the current provision "was overly broad in allowing individuals who have not suffered significant physical harm to skip the independent review system." Noting that the law does not take effect until Jan. 1, the original right-to-sue bill's sponsor state Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) said, "There will be plenty of time in the future ... to judge whether or not it is being abused and needs amendment" (5/10).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.