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Press Release: ACP-ASIM Commends Michigan HMO For Reversing Policy Limiting Patients' Choice

HMO Will No Longer Require Referrals to Internists

(Washington, DC): The American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine (ACP-ASIM) applauds the decision of the Care Choices HMO to reverse its policy saying that doctors of internal medicine would no longer be able to be seen as primary care physicians. (See earlier press release in which ACP-ASIM expressed its concern.)

Last fall, plan members in the Muskegon, Michigan, area who see an internist as their primary care physician received a notice from Care Choices that they must select a new primary care physician from among the HMO's family physicians and general practitioners.

In December, ACP-ASIM Chief Executive Officer and Executive Vice President Walt McDonald, MD, FACP, sent a letter to the health plans voicing the College's strong objections to the new policy.

"Internal medicine training is designed to develop highly skilled, competent primary care physicians of adult medicine. Denying patients the opportunity to see internal medicine physicians in the primary care setting is inappropriate," Dr. McDonald wrote in the letter, which is available on the ACP-ASIM web site at www.acponline.org.

ACP-ASIM's Public Affairs Department followed the with a media campaign that began last week and was directed at informing the public of the negative consequences of this action.

Less than one week later, after hearing numerous concerns from plan members, physician partners and medical societies, Care Choices reversed its policy Friday, Jan 5.

ACP-ASIM has a longstanding policy of opposing managed care organizations attempts to restrict access to primary care physicians based solely upon specialty and gives credit to Care Choices for recognizing its initial mistake.

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