California Legislation AB 72 Will Interfere With Access to Medical Care, States the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)

TUCSON, Ariz., Aug. 29, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The following is a statement by the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (AAPS):

Promoted as a means to end “surprise billing,” California Assembly Bill 72 will actually enrich insurance companies while creating shortages of care for patients, states the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). Headed for passage in the California legislature, this bill will interfere with patient access to medical care.

Price controls lead to shortages, always and everywhere, as every economist knows, AAPS states. AB 72 not only sets price controls in an arbitrary way, but authorizes insurance companies to set the prices and impose them even on doctors outside their network, with whom they have no contract, AAPS explains.

“This is bad policy, and also unconstitutional,” states AAPS general Counsel Andrew Schlafly. “There is no known precedent for Cal. AB 72, and it would be surely challenged in litigation . Private companies cannot be lawfully authorized by the legislature to impose price controls on workers who have no contract with them. When price controls have been used, they are set by publicly accountable entities. Private insurance companies have no such accountability, political or otherwise.”

“Patients are increasingly being forced into narrow networks, in order to cut costs for insurers,” states Jane Orient, M.D., executive director of AAPS. “The care they need is often not available in the network. Many physicians stay out of network because of the extremely low fees they are allowed to charge.”

“If in-network care is not available, the insurance company should be obligated to reimburse its subscribers for the out-of-network charges they incur,” she added. “Moreover, insurers have no right to tell their subscribers they are not allowed to spend their own money to buy care their Plan denies them.”

Insurance companies and their highly paid executives profit more if they can impose low prices on the entire market and not just providers who choose to contract with them. “And they do still better if they don’t have to pay at all when patients receive no care because no one can afford to provide it to them,” Dr. Orient pointed out.

AB 72 will also harm the uninsured, as physicians will be forced to cut back on the medical care they provide to the uninsured and to charities. Insurance company payment rates are already so low that in-network providers cannot afford to provide much charity care as it is, AAPS states.

“This bill actually will hurt everyone except insurance companies. California should reject it,” Dr. Orient concludes.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in virtually all specialties and every state. Founded in 1943, AAPS has the motto “omnia pro aegroto,” which means “all for the patient.”


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