RIGHT-TO-SUE: State Legislature Holds the Cards
An editorial in today's San Francisco Chronicle argues that Congress should "address ERISA's inequities" and allow patients to sue their health plans, but "until that happens, the remedy for the injustice of allowing the HMOs to remain accountable must be state law." The paper notes that many judges complain that ERISA does not reflect market changes, and "their hands are tied even when patients and families with legitimate claims against the HMOs come before them." In Texas, where the state Legislature has addressed the ERISA preemption, "HMOs leaned toward honoring, not denying, doctors' requests for treatment," while the number of lawsuits did not increase significantly. Finally, the Chronicle notes that a recent video expose of one HMO showed that it investigated complaints from patients more quickly and thoroughly if a patient's right to sue was unencumbered by ERISA. The editorial concludes that state Sen. Liz Figueroa's (D-Fremont) SB 21, which has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, "should receive swift approval as it moves through the Legislature plus a signature from the governor" (4/28).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.