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NEWS RELEASE
Mar 28, 2000


CONTACT: Andrew Pontious 310-392-0522 x308

Bill Ending Forced Arbitration at HMOs Passes Assembly Judiciary Committee

AB 1751 Now Heads To Assembly Floor
SACRAMENTO- Patients rights legislation that will guarantee that HMO arbitration be voluntarily entered into only after a dispute arises advanced out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee today and now moves to the Assembly floor.

AB 1751 (Kuehl), sponsored by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), will prevent HMOs from forcing patients into mandatory, binding arbitration as a condition of enrollment.

"This is a vindication of the 7th Amendment right to a jury trial that HMOs and managed care insurers have been able to subvert until now," said Jamie Court, advocacy director for FTCR. "Patients should not have to choose between the right to trial or the right to health care."

FTCR launched the "HMO Arbitration Abuse Report" campaign today to highlight daily stories of patients harmed by their HMOs, yet forced to have their disputes settled in private, HMO-controlled arbitration hearings. Testifying today on behalf of AB 1751 was Peter Berman, whose wife died due to cancer and HMO cost-cutting in 1997. A forced binding arbitration agreement in his HMO enrollment contract, unknown to Berman until his wife's medical problems arose, has precluded him from taking the HMO to court to date.

Berman's story is the "HMO Arbitration Abuse Report" for Wednesday March 29, 2000.

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