Tuesday, December 5, 2006

State Judge Rules Against HMOs

Here are some quotes from a story that ran in The Hartford Courant on November 30, 2006. I found this story interesting because this is the same judge who presided over the mercury hearings that I attended this past summer. At issue then was whether or not dentists in this state were exempt from Connecticut's new Zero Mercury law, which states that no products shall be sold in this state if they contain mercury, a very toxic heavy metal used in dental amalgam. He ultimately dismissed the dental mercury lawsuit on the grounds that we, the people/public/consumers/plaintiffs, had no legal standing.

Health maintenance organizations that are paid almost $700 million by Connecticut taxpayers to care for low-income residents must tell the public how they spend the state's money, a Superior Court judge said Wednesday.

The ruling was a victory for advocates for the poor, who demanded the information because they believe the HMOs are paying doctors so little that many refuse to treat patients covered by the state-paid Medicaid health insurance program.

The HMOs - Anthem Health Plans, Healthnet of Connecticut and Community Health Network - have refused to disclose how much they pay doctors participating in Medicaid because they say the figures are trade secrets.

On Wednesday, Judge George Levine said that by virtually controlling the health care delivery for 311,000 children and their parents covered by the state's Husky Medicaid Plan, the HMOs are serving a government funtion.

I wonder if this will provide a precedence for overturning 'corporate confidentiality' rights that see industry able to fleece taxpayers, intervene in the democratic process and even physically harm (as is the case with mercury poisoning) with impunity.


stacy said...

It's surprising that most Americans don't seem to know that mercury is so toxic. Most of Europe bans the use of it in any dentistry. I thought maybe your readers might like a little background: http://www.amalgam.org/

Dana Herbert said...

To find a holistic, mercury-free dentist go to http://www.iaomt.org or see my links section.

Dana Herbert said...

The dental mercury case was not dismissed because it lacked merit. Even the defense expert agreed that mercury was toxic. However, she also argued that banning mercury from dentistry would be the same as banning cars for giving off carbon monoxide. It would hurt industry.

Dana Herbert said...

Here is a copy of Gina McCarthy's Declaratory Ruling: