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The Foundation For Taxpayer and Consumer Rights

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Press Release
Feb 14, 2008 - 12:00 PM


CONTACT: Jerry Flanagan, (310) 889-4912

Gov. Schwarzenegger Must Follow Through on Call to Ban Blue Cross From Using Doctors as Double-Agents to Dump Sick Patients

Santa Monica, CA -- The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) sent a letter to the state's HMO regulator calling for swift action to end Blue Cross' practice of conscripting doctors as "double agents," combing medical records for any excuse to dump patients who might become ill.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that the practice should be banned. Schwarzenegger's office was copied on the letter sent to regulators.

Read FTCR's letter to the Department of Managed Health Care.

"Governor Schwarzenegger should not let go of this issue until his Department of Managed Health Care has established a clear and comprehensive prohibition on HMO strategies to dump sick patients who need health care the most," said Jerry Flanagan of FTCR.

In the letter FTCR wrote:

"We urge you to advise all health plans that they must refrain from forwarding a member's enrollment application to their treating physician, and asking that physician to utilize administrative or financial judgment about coverage issues that are typically functions of underwriters and utilization reviewers.

"Blue Cross' announced voluntary cessation of the practice should not stay your hand. Absent swift and final action by you, Blue Cross will likely return to the profitable practice in the future, and other insurers may adopt it if they have not done so already.

"Not only do Blue Cross' actions have a chilling effect on the doctor-patient relationship, they violate the legal and social framework of our health care system -- the principle that medical decisions are to be rendered unhindered by fiscal and administrative concerns."

Read the Blue Cross of California letter to doctors.

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FTCR is California's leading public interest watchdog. For more information, visit us on the web at: www.ConsumerWatchdog.org.




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