February 21, 2017

On behalf of the Florida Justice Association’s (FJA) Medical Malpractice Committee, Ted Leopold, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, testified in front of the Florida Senate Banking & Insurance Committee in support of Senate Bill 262 (Sen. Stuebe) on Tuesday, February 21, 2017. The bill seeks to amend a 2003 law that gives virtual immunity to health maintenance organizations (HMO) and limits which civil actions can be brought against HMOs by individuals.

The proposed bill would enable patients to sue their HMO if it fails to provide a covered service when in good faith it should have, including when that service has been deemed medically reasonable and necessary in the judgment of the patient’s physician; or if the HMO violates certain provisions of state law.

It would also repeal the so-called vicarious liability provisions enacted in 2003 that bar civil action against HMOs for actions caused by contracted providers, such as physicians, who do not work directly for the HMO.

“HMOs,” argued attorney Ted Leopold, “have gone from organizations that used to pay claims, to ones that now make decisions about care and treatment.” Leopold, an advocate for the proposed HMO malpractice bill, is determined to hold HMOs responsible for policies or practices that many people fear have not only jeopardized the health of many Floridians but have undermined the integrity of the doctor-patient relationship.

Every year, powerful corporations spend millions of dollars lobbying in Tallahassee for their own special interests, often competing against those of the public, the plaintiffs’ bar, and the integrity of Florida’s civil justice system. Mr. Leopold is a long time champion of consumer rights and is well known for fighting big insurance companies to ensure Florida’s civil justice system remains accessible and equitable to all.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, was advanced 6-3 to the Senate Judiciary and Rules committees on Tuesday afternoon. A House version is sponsored by Rep. Cord Byrd, R-Jacksonville Beach.

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Bill Would Allow Patients to Sue HMOs Over Care Denials, Malpractice
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February 21, 2017