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The State

HMOs Do Some Things Well, State Report Finds

Immunizing of children is praised, but shortcomings in caring for the mentally ill and diabetics are noted.

October 01, 2003|From Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — California's health maintenance organizations do a good job caring for heart patients and providing immunization for children but don't do as well serving the needs of the mentally ill, according to a state survey released Tuesday.

The annual HMO "Quality of Care Report Card," from the state's Office of the Patient Advocate, ranks the 10 largest health maintenance organizations based on 39,000 customer reports. The survey also includes some of the larger doctor groups in metropolitan areas.

More than 13 million California residents receive their health care through HMOs.

The third annual report card found that most HMOs are able to provide a high rate of immunization for children but not for adolescents. Diabetics receive good care in testing for cholesterol and blood sugar levels, but HMOs are unable to do as well in controlling cholesterol and blood sugar.

Researchers also say that quality of care can vary greatly between HMOs, and that consumers should consider the study results before choosing a provider.

"Not only does the report card provide an annual benchmark to measure the quality of care being delivered in California, it is also a valuable tool for consumers when they are making important health-care decisions," Gov. Gray Davis said.

The report card is available in English, Spanish and Chinese at the patient advocate's Web site: http:// www.opa.ca.gov. A pamphlet summarizing the information will be available at doctors' offices, pharmacies and libraries around the state as well as Walgreen's drugstores throughout California.

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