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State's HMO 'Report Card' Fails in Meaningful Evaluation of Health Care Quality and Ignores Affordability
Date:10/18/2007

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Oct. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The annual HMO report card released today by the Schwarzenegger administration is so vague and incomplete that it does not allow consumers to accurately evaluate HMO quality or safety. The report omits key consumer information including costs, medical failures and illegal behavior that is rampant among the state's HMOs, according to the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).

FTCR noted that today's release was timed to coincide with the governor's legislation that would require Californians to buy health insurance, even if it is unaffordable and of poor quality.

"Car buyers get more complete information about auto quality, reliability and safety from Consumer Reports; even Zagat tells us more about where to get good ravioli," said Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). "This report, and as far as we can tell, the entire state Office of the Patient Advocate, is a waste of taxpayer money, more concerned with the political protection of HMOs than with informing patients of life-threatening problems at HMOs."

The worst behavior of California HMOs -- the illegal cancellation of coverage when patients get sick or the wholesale throwing overboard of kidney dialysis patients by Kaiser -- wasn't even mentioned in the report. It is easy to get good grades when the teachers ignore bad behavior, said FTCR. This vague and incomplete analysis gives consumers a false sense of security about the quality of HMOs.

The HMO report gives every HMO "gold stars" in broad, vague categories with no explanation of what went right or wrong at individual plans.

"Instead of receiving stars, HMOs should receive bad grades with detailed descriptions of the offense when they fail to uphold standards of patient care," said Flanagan. "By making all HMOs look safe and ethical, this report seems more concerned with furthering Gov. Schwarzenegger's deeply fl
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SOURCE Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights
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