American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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ACP backs new ban on Medicaid HMO 'gag clauses'

From the March 1997 ACP Observer, copyright © 1997 by the American College of Physicians.

The College was one of only four health care organizations invited to join President Clinton late last month when he announced a new rule that will prohibit Medicaid HMOs from blocking doctors and nurses from telling patients about all treatment options--even if these are expensive and not covered by the insurance plans. The president also urged legislators to pass laws banning these "gag clauses" for all Americans with private insurance.

At an Oval Office briefing attended by ACP Regent Whitney W. Addington, FACP, Mr. Clinton explained that the prohibition strikes "the right balance between permitting managed care to go forward and flourish, and setting the conditions in which it will operate so that we guarantee that quality of care is not sacrificed."

The College applauded the directive, saying that "gag rules are an inappropriate and potentially harmful intrusion into the physician-patient relationship."

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