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Consumer Advocates Call for Governor to Make Good on His Promise to Protect Patients From Illegal Cancellations of Health Insurance
Date:3/27/2008

Health Care Regulators Accused in Hearing of "Glacial Pace" in Stopping Post-Claim Rescissions, Failing to Restore Coverage to Victims

SACRAMENTO, Calif., March 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- California's Department of Managed Health Care has not ordered Blue Cross to restore insurance coverage in any of 90 cases of illegal rescission found by the department's own investigators, consumer advocates revealed during a hearing in the state Senate's Health Committee.

The Department of Managed Health Care must move forward now with regulations to stop these illegal cancellations, said Consumer Watchdog (formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights), and restore coverage lost by innocent patients who have been left not only uninsured, but uninsurable.

"Despite the department's own finding of widespread abuse, patients still are not protected from arbitrary loss of their insurance coverage when they fall ill," said Jerry Flanagan, health policy director of Consumer Watchdog. "The department has not ordered the reinstatement of any enrollees in Blue Cross, despite DMHC's own determination that in every one of 90 cases examined, Blue Cross acted illegally. This glacial pace is harming real people."

Flanagan expressed alarm at reports that the department might push the issue back to the Legislature, even though the DMHC has full authority to issue regulations. "Punting to the Legislature will delay justice for those already harmed, and allow insurers to continue, perhaps for years, canceling policies when patients fall ill."

The law states that individual health insurance policies can be cancelled only for "willful misrepresentation" by an applicant, said Consumer Watchdog. Regulators must move forward with draft regulations, circulated in 2007, that protect innocent patients from policy cancellations. During the hearing, Flanagan cited the case of a patient whose policy was canceled when the insurer found that a d
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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog
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