UPDATED: Lovelace customers pack town hall Monday in search for answers

Posted at: 10/22/2012 12:14 PM
Updated at: 10/22/2012 3:12 PM
By: KOB.com staff

A lawsuit has been filed in the battle between an Albuquerque health insurance company and a group of local doctors.

Last week, ABQ Health Partners - a group made up of nearly 200 doctors - announced it will no longer accept Lovelace health insurance.

Now Lovelace is suing to try to stop ABQ Health partners from trying to get its patients to switch to a new insurance company.

"They've been coerced to join one of several other health plans that the doctors have a financial interest in. That's against the medical rules," said Ron Stern, CEO of Lovelace Health System.

Later Monday, ABQ Health Partners’ President Harry Magnes sent KOB this reponse to what he called Stern’s "false assertion" that ABQ Health Partners doctors have a financial interest in an insurance company and are coercing patients:

“What Mr. Stern alleges is beyond the pale and is completely false. Our doctors have no financial interest in any of the insurance companies with which we contract. His assertion that our doctors are coercing patients is insulting. ABQ Health Partners is moving toward a model of coordinated care that puts patients first and has proven to keep them healthy and out of the hospital. Mr. Stern is afraid such a model of care will hurt Lovelace’s bottom line, which relies on putting patients’ heads in hospital beds.”

“ABQ Health Partners is committed to our patients. The continuity of their care is our priority. As doctors we reserve the right to educate our patients about changes in health care and to let patients make their own choices. Again, we have no financial interest in any insurance company. Rather we are interested in contracting with health plans that share our vision for helping patients lead healthy and happy lives.”  

The impending change will affect about 100,000 New Mexicans who will need to find another doctor or insurance company.

Meanwhile, Lovelace is working to make sure patients know what options they have.

Monday morning, hundreds of people packed a town hall meeting at Embassy Suites in Downtown Albuquerque.

Lovelace officials answered questions and there was even a place where people could sign up with new doctors.

The people we talked to said the meeting was helpful in letting them know what their options are.

Stay with KOB as we continue to cover this developing story.

See a schedule of Lovelace town hall meetings