Zingale Says DMHC ‘Lacks Clout’ in Addressing Health Care Access Problems
The Department of Managed Health Care "lacks clout" to fix health care access problems, DMHC Director Daniel Zingale said at a hearing of the Senate subcommittee on health yesterday. The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports that Zingale said state health officials are "concerned" about potential disruptions to health care caused by contract disputes between doctors and HMOs over reimbursement rates. Some HMO members, such as women in late stages of pregnancy and those with "crucial, scheduled surgeries," are protected by "continuity of care" contract provisions backed by state law, but Zingale said those provisions should extend to people with chronic health conditions and children under the age of three. "[W]e have learned that patients' rights do not go far enough with the tools we were given," Zingale said. In addition, Zingale said that the DMHC "has not been able to do anything" regarding HMOs exiting Medicare+Choice. "There is no law that can force an HMO to do business in an area," Zingale said. Gov. Gray Davis' (D) administration next year intends to expand the DMHC's authority "to deal with a torrent of complaints about HMOs," Zingale said. Sen. Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata), chair of the health subcommittee, said the Legislature "will take a serious review of laws governing HMOs" in the next legislative session (Rose, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 12/4).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.