RIGHT-TO-SUE: HMO Gravy Train Leads Straight to Courtrooms
A Wall Street Journal editorial today bemoans Gov. Gray Davis' decision this week to free "20 million Golden State managed-care customers to mount a legal war against their providers," calling the new law an "open ticket to litigate" that "will do little more than replace the HMO bureaucrats with the courts." Sure to "set a national precedent," given that "tort- happy HMO bashers are [already] on the verge of pushing similar legislation through Congress," the reform is a "terrible shift," the editors write. They argue that "judges and juries are outstandingly inefficient allocators of resources." The result is a vicious cycle, in which premiums skyrocket, "the industry as a whole starts to retreat," and, once again, patients lose out. The solution, maintain the editors, is to "address the nature of coverage itself, which shields consumers from "day-to-day expenses" rather than providing protection primarily for "catastrophic" medical conditions. "Many of the more drastic problems associated with HMOs," would disappear if Congress simply approved "wider adoption of Medical Savings Accounts." It concludes that "so long as politicians continue to shun solutions that look to provide care without perverting the price system, American patients can look forward to spending even less time with the doctors and more time before their courtrooms" (9/29).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.