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Aug 17, 1999
CONTACT: Andrew Pontious - 310-392-0522 x308
Patients Respond to Being Ignored By Governor on Request to Meet
Say They Would Not Vote For Him AgainMembers of the group of 47 California HMO patients, and relatives of patients, who invited Governor Gray Davis to meet face-to-face to hear their plight, responded Tuesday to the Governor's failure to reply. Unlike Davis, a public employee, the patients have no legal remedy against their HMOs, because they have private industry health coverage.
The patients had asked Governor Davis to respond to the non-profit, non-partisan Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) in Santa Monica, by August 13, 1999. Calls to the Governor's office by FTCR staff went unreturned through Monday and a written response had not been received. FTCR is the sponsor of SB21 (Figueroa), which allows all patients the same right to sue their HMO for full damages as government employees have.
"I've lost my son, Stephen, to an HMO's negligence and have no legal remedy against them, I think that qualifies me to have my voice heard on HMO reform," stated Nick Parrino of Santa Fe Springs, whose son died after his HMO denied therapy to prevent his tumor recurrence. "Governor Davis has adopted a cash-for-access policy when it comes to reforming HMOs and that is wrong. It is time that patients and their relatives are heard, as we are the ones who are most affected by health care reform decisions."
"How many children have to die in order to get Governor Davis' attention?" asked Heather Aitken of Woodland Hills, whose infant son had adverse reactions to vaccines, but was denied coverage due to an HMO's clerical error, costing him his life. "It seems those with the money get the attention. Just as HMOs do not have time to listen to patients' concerns, Governor Davis does not have time to listen to his constituents."
"It's extremely disappointing that he has extended the courtesy to listen to HMOs and refuses to hear from patients," stated David Pollard of Rancho Cordova, who had congestive heart failure, yet was told he only had stomach gas by an HMO telephone clerk. "He needs to hear from the people being manipulated by the HMOs. Surely he could have allowed at least some of his staff to meet with us."
"It upsets me, one of the reasons I voted for him was because of his campaign promises to reform HMOs for patients," stated Patricia Pratt of Vacaville, whose husband died from acute pancreatic cancer after a year and a half of pain and suffering, because of his HMO's delays. "He is turning out to be a true politician who does not support the patient."
"Gray Davis needs to listen to my child's story before he makes decisions that affect millions of patients," stated Mary Schriever of Cypress, whose depressed teenage boy died in a juvenile detention facility after being denied mental health care by his HMO. "The Governor needs to hear how I worked to pay my premiums just to have my insurer act as though I was asking for a favor when I tried to get care for Bill. These companies are making cost-cutting health care decisions that are pennywise and pound foolish. And it is costing patients and families financially and emotionally."
"There is no time or room for smug arrogance, because this tragic situation can and will happen to everyone in their life time, including Governor Davis," stated Sarita Silen of Irvine, whose 16 year old daughter died after her HMO delayed the diagnosis of her leukemia and her transplant treatment. "This health care system is deteriorating fast. Governor Davis needs to act now to stop all these tragic surprises from happening to other families. We are living proof that it can happen to anyone."
"I'm appalled I even voted for Gray Davis. Obviously he does not have an HMO for his health care, or he would be a lot more open to the opinions of patients," said Patricia Berry of La Mesa, whose father died from a heart condition following surgery delays by his HMO. "How many
"I think the HMO system is terrible and yet Gray Davis seems to be doing nothing new to change it," said Nora Hart of Richmond, whose brother died three days after his HMO refused to authorize hospital treatment for his lung condition. "I voted for him, but I really do not think I will again."
"My mother gave her health and peace of mind to the HMO debate and Governor Davis is not even willing to give us an hour of his time, that is wrong," said Nancy Leitner of Carmichael, whose mother was given substandard care following a stroke and who was even told by the HMO to transport her mother to the hospital herself. "He has met with the industry, now it is time for the Governor to meet with us."
"I was a healthy person and my whole life is changed because of my HMO's negligence," responded Deborah Flores of Riverside, who suffered irreversible muscle damage after her HMO denied referrals for her spine condition. "I live in constant pain and face a lifetime of problems, shame on Governor Davis for not listening to us."
"The current health care system is terribly unfair for patients," stated Lillian Jeffries of Sun City, who suffered with debilitating pain from a nerve condition that her HMO treated with the urgency of a common cold. "We are left with no way to hold these HMOs accountable and have to suffer with minimal oversight by the Department of Corporations. All this while HMOs continue to make medical decisions that harm patients."
"Our family has fought our HMO for proper care for two years to no avail, it is time for our elected officials to listen to what patients have to say," said Valerie Lipovsky of San Diego, who was forced to go out of her HMO network to get proper care for her young daughter's spinal condition. "Governor Davis needs to get in touch with what patients want."
"As someone who supported Governor Davis during his election, I feel betrayed that he refuses to even meet with patients," stated Judy Lerner of Studio City, whose insurer denied her ambulance transport and home care while she was immobile with leg fractures. "It is ironic and disappointing that some Republicans in Washington and California are willing to support patients in the HMO liability debate, yet our Democratic governor will not make himself available to his constituents."
"My husband needed life-saving care and his HMO denied him, now I don't know how long he will survive," stated Cheryl Dunn of Antioch, whose husband was forced to leave his HMO in order to receive a pacemaker after his HMO failed to investigate his heart condition. "I feel my husband's HMO basically has killed him and I have no way of holding them accountable. Governor Davis has a responsibility to patients to help us hold these companies accountable for their medical decisions."
"Due to HMOs' negligent treatment and noncompliance of state laws, we need some real patient protection," stated Beatrice Williamson-Johnson of Pico Rivera, whose husband, after being told he had asthma and denied an angiogram for over two years, was finally told by an HMO specialist that he has congestive heart failure. "Patients who are harmed by their HMO need to be able to seek damages in court and Governor Davis needs to make that a reality."
"Governor Davis cannot promise one thing during an election and then change when he gets in office," stated Jamie Wooldridge of Hercules, whose infant daughter died after her HMO denied her cystic fibrosis treatment. Jamie's other daughter now faces the same struggle. "Our HMO denied a $128 test that cost our daughter her life, Governor Davis needs to hear stories like ours to see the reality of corporate health care where it is more effective for companies to have people die than to give the appropriate care."
"It is wrong that our medical system is breaking down and Governor Davis will not even meet with us," said Michael Consenza of Mountain View, who suffered spinal injuries from an auto accident and was denied long term disability coverage by his insurance company. "We live in a throw away society where patients are pushed aside in medicine and not given priority."
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