RED BANK, N.J.-First Option Health Plan has received authority to operate an HMO in the state's 21 counties. First Option was formed earlier this year by 40 hospitals, which have invested a total of $14 million in the HMO. Another $40 million is to be raised through the sale of common stock to healthcare providers. A registration statement covering the sale was declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission on June 3. The public offering will cover a total of 1.7 million shares to hospitals, participating physicians and other healthcare providers.
NEW YORK-A medical service organization violated federal anti-discrimination laws by refusing to provide sign-language interpreters for deaf patients, the state charged last week. In a civil suit filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, State Attorney General G. Oliver Koppell said Mid-Hudson Medical Group, an HMO based in Fishkill, N.Y., also violated the state civil rights statute. The suit stemmed from a deaf patient's complaint that Mid-Hudson refused to provide a sign-language expert at his physical examination, then refused to reimburse him for one that he hired, Mr. Koppell's office said. It said the patient, Jim
Boardman, 36, had told Mid-Hudson that he also had a visual impairment that precluded him from communicating with physicians by written notes.
Mr. Koppell said the suit was the first brought in New York under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, requiring service providers to pay for special needs of disabled people. State law also protects their rights in such cases, he said. The suit seeks reimbursement, unspecified damages and penalties and a court order requiring the HMO to provide oral and sign-language interpreters for hearing-impaired patients. Mr. Koppell said Mid-Hudson Medical Group includes 18 doctors in various specialties. Officials at Mid-Hudson did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the suit.-Associated Press