Florida Court Rejects Provider Ballot Measure

The Florida Supreme Court has thrown out a proposed ballot measure to amend the state's constitution to give HMO patients the right to use physicians who aren't part of their plan's network.

The court, in tossing out the any-willing-provider initiative, ruled not on the merits of the proposal but its language, saying it was overly vague and failed to inform voters adequately about its effect. Florida's constitution requires that a proposed amendment cover a single subject and have a clear, unambiguous title and summary. The any-willing-provider amendment, the court said, combined two distinct subjects: It proscribed limits on provider choice and prohibited private parties from entering into contracts that limit choice.

A group called Florida Health Choice started collecting signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. Opponents say this group, whose members include lawyers, is not concerned about choice, but that managed care has cut down on its litigation.