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New Rules Aimed At Giving HMO Members Better Access

Audio

Aired 9/21/09

California regulators say they're getting close to setting rules about how long-managed care patients have to wait to get doctor appointments. About 20 million Californians will be affected by the new regulations.

— California regulators say they're getting close to setting rules about how long-managed care patients have to wait to get doctor appointments. About 20 million Californians will be affected by the new regulations.

The legislature passed the law requiring timely access to care back in 2002. State regulators say it's taken years to work things out with HMOs and doctors.

The guidelines would require HMO members to be given a non-urgent medical appointment within ten business days.

Jerry Flanagan, with the non-profit group Consumer Watchdog, said that sounds pretty good.

"But, you know it's not necessarily what people paid for," Flanagan said. "What's in the mind of the consumer when they buy that insurance contract is that they're going to be able to call up their insurance company or their local doctor, and get an appointment in the next couple of days."

State regulators say the guidelines could be issued by the end of the year.

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