Senate Okays Legislation Giving Arkansans More Choice on Doctors

FEBRUARY 8, 2005 - Posted at 7:46 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Senate has passed a bill that would bring back Arkansas' dormant Any Willing Provider law.  The law was adopted a decade ago to allow Arkansans covered by managed-care health insurance plans to see the doctor of their choice.

The Senate passed the measure yesterday on a 23-2 vote, with no debate.

Arkansas Blue Cross & Blue Shield succeeded in getting a court injunction to halt implementation of the earlier law, which has been tied up in court since.

A judge's decision last year to lift the injuncion was stayed pending the outcome of an appeal by Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Arkansas' largest health insurance carrier.  The company argued in court that patients and doctors would be confused if new providers entered the network but had to be excluded later if the ruling were to be overturned.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)