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Read Making a Killing

home / healthcare / in the media

New York Times
Mar 18, 1999

by Milt Freudenheim

Group Sues to Halt Kaiser Permanente Ads

In the latest legal attack on managed health care, a consumer advocacy group asked a California court this week to halt advertising by Kaiser Permanente, the nation's largest health maintenance organization, contending that the company's advertising recruited members by fraudulently portraying Kaiser's 10,000 doctors as not subject to financial constraints on patient care.

The civil suit, filed on Monday in San Francisco, seeks an injunction on the ads and unspecified monetary damages for hundreds of thousands of new Kaiser members under California's consumer protection laws.

Dr. Francis J. Crosson, executive director of the Permanente Federation of Kaiser physician groups, said the lawsuit was politically motivated -- "a cheap attempt to embarrass Kaiser in a setting of legislative issues being decided in California and other parts of the country."

Managed-care companies are vigorously opposing so-called patients' rights proposals in Congress and several states that would make H.M.O.'s and other health plans liable in medical malpractice lawsuits.

In another recent case involving managed care, a California court awarded $116 million in punitive damages to a woman who contended that Aetna Inc. had improperly delayed care for her husband, who died of stomach cancer.

Psychologists in New Jersey and California have sued managed-care companies, contending they fraudulently advertised mental health coverage. And state boards of medicine in several states have contested denials of care by doctors who make decisions on treatment for H.M.O.'s.

The plaintiffs in the latest case are four individuals and the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.



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