Declaring that a crucial piece of legislation was left out of HMO reform last year, California Assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, announced Thursday that she will carry a bill banning mandatory binding arbitration clauses in health care contracts.

Consumers will be able to sue their HMOs beginning in January 2001, but Kuehl contends that right will be invalidated unless patients can also “exercise their right to choose whether they want a public trial or a private arbitration to decide their case [only] after they know the extent of their injuries.”

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