Release of Doctor Groups’ Financial Information ‘One Piece of Puzzle,’ Sacramento Bee Says
The Department of Managed Health Care's recently released report on the financial information of more than 200 doctor groups is "merely one piece of a puzzle that consumers deserve to see," a Sacramento Bee editorial says. The editorial notes that while it is "public knowledge when an HMO is on the brink of bankruptcy," it is often a "dark secret when the same thing is happening to the doctors who are actually providing the care." The editorial points out that the California Medical Association "is mistakenly worried" that releasing financial information would allow HMOs to "squeeze financially healthy" doctor groups if the report indicated "extra money hanging around." The current report shows that approximately 33% of doctor groups are posting more liabilities than assets, yet a CMA lawsuit prohibiting the release of more detailed financial information did not allow the report to indicate "whether the red ink ... is merely a penny or several million dollars." The editorial says that HMOs have grown "accustomed to outside groups such as the CMA combing through their publicly available financial records." Now, doctor groups should be open to a "modest level of scrutiny," as they have taken on "much of the financial and medical responsibility of caring for HMO members," the editorial says. The editorial concludes, "HMOs and the doctors may forever fight over money, but it's not inevitable that the paying public be left in the dark. A clearer picture of medicine's money trail is the only way to make this system healthier for all involved" (Sacramento Bee, 10/11).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.