Sacramento County Judge Temporarily Halts Public Release of Medical Groups’ Financial Information
A Sacramento County judge issued a temporary injunction Wednesday to block a Department of Managed Health Care plan to publicly release medical groups' financial information, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. DMHC collects financial information -- including cash flow statements; profit and loss reports; debt load status; the number of Medi-Cal, Medicare or employer-sponsored beneficiaries served; and a list of contracting insurers -- from HMOs and physician groups to "ensure their financial health" (Coleman, AP/Contra Costa Times, 9/27). Under a regulation issued in August, the department planned to provide the information to the public on Oct. 1 (California Healthline, 9/6). However, the California Medical Association filed a lawsuit earlier this month to prevent the state from releasing the information, saying that if released, the information would "give HMOs an advantage" in contract negotiations.
In yesterday's ruling, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Gail Ohanesian blocked DMHC from releasing some of the information until a Nov. 30 hearing, but said that the state could still collect financial information from medical groups. DMHC Director Daniel Zingale said that the department also will release medical groups' "pass-fail rating," which will allow patients to "know if their doctors' groups are in financial trouble." He added, "What we won't be able to release is the explanation behind the ratings. If your medical group failed to get a good rating, you won't know if it failed by a dollar or a million dollars." CMA officials said they support the ratings system for medical groups, but would prefer to "keep the details private," the AP/Times reports. The California Nurses Association, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights and Health Access, a coalition of more than 200 consumer and community groups, have "voiced their support" for the state on the issue (AP/Contra Costa Times, 9/27).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.