Zingale Rejects Petition to Open Arbitration Cases
The Department of Managed Health Care has rejected a petition to make all documents and discoveries obtained during arbitration cases between health plans and their members available to the public, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Daniel Zingale, the agency's director, said he "lacks the authority" to release arbitration records, as state law "specifically bars" public disclosure of information about patients (Fong, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/22). The department currently posts the outcomes of arbitration cases on its Web site with many details, such as the names of patients, doctors and health plans involved, omitted. The petition was filed last month by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, which said that patients "have a right to know" who was involved in managed care arbitration cases because patients do not have the right to sue health plans in court (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 3/22). Jamie Court, executive director of the consumer group, "disagreed" with Zingale's decision, saying, "We believe [he] has the power to make arbitration records public. He is reading the statute very narrowly." Yesterday, Court wrote to Zingale, asking him to endorse legislation to "make health-plan arbitration clauses voluntary" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/22).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.