HMO Horror Story Comes to Supreme Court in Test of Patient

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The Supreme Court is deciding if patients can sue HMOs in state courts for denying care. The court Tuesday heard cases involving two patients allegedly harmed by HMO decisions.

A majority of justices seemed to agree with insurers that patients have other choices and can't sue in more generous state courts.

A lawyer for one patient says she suffered a "classic HMO horror story," when she was booted from the hospital just a day after a complicated surgery. Later, she returned to the hospital with complications.

Insurers want such cases limited to federal courts, where a 1974 law prevents punitive damages and limits awards to the cost of the procedure that was denied.