Any willing provider: off again

(March 12, 2004) — (Little Rock-AP) -- Arkansas' on-and-off law giving doctors equal access to managed-care networks is off again. U-S District Judge James Moody, who lifted a nine-year stay on the so-called "any willing provider law," has shut down enforcement again to allow time for an appeal. Moody says he will allow Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield to appeal before forcing insurers to accept claims from any provider. Moody had lifted a nine-year ban on the law. Any-willing provider means any doctor willing to abide by an insurance company's requirements must be accepted in its managed-care networks. Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is far and away the largest health insurance company in the state, controlling nearly half of the market. The company wants control over which doctors can join its networks and is holding applications until the Eighth U-S Circuit Court of Appeals hears the case, probably in the summer.