Press-Telegram Praises Ruling Allowing Medicare Beneficiaries to Sue HMOs
Although last week's decision by the state Supreme Court to allow Medicare+Choice beneficiaries to sue their health plans in state court over denials of care "will probably result in wasteful and costly lawsuits," a Long Beach Press-Telegram editorial states that "deny[ing] patients their right to seek legal redress for legitimate grievances ... in this case, life and death matters ... is a far worse affront." The "most positive result" of the ruling, "in addition to fair compensation after the fact," will be that "Medicare-contracted [insurers] will have to think much more carefully before denying care to patients," the editorial states. "Far too often, patients are forced to fight for medical services that should rightfully be theirs ... leading many to conclude that profits matter more" to insurers than patients' health. The editorial concludes that while attorneys for managed care companies may have correctly stated that establishing a right to sue will eventually drive up health costs, "a greater good has been served by giving [managed care] patients a voice in the legal system" (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 5/7).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.