The Republican candidate for attorney general, Betty Montgomery, claims that
she ran an outstanding consumer protection section when she previously held
the office. Large corporate interests probably thought so, but the public had
little reason to.
Montgomery's lack of concern for consumers was shown when a Cleveland law
firm filed a class-action lawsuit accusing many hospitals of violating the
Consumer Sales Practices Act. The firm wanted to stop them from charging fees
ranging from 95 cents to $23 a page for copies of medical records.
As attorney general, Montgomery had the primary responsibility for enforcing
the law, but she declined to enter the lawsuit and, in effect, sided with the
hospitals. She took that position even though the federal government, after
extensive hearings, had determined that 7 cents a page was fair compensation
when hospitals provide copies of medical records to peer review organizations.
Montgomery also was unmoved by reports that the fees were so high that some
persons could not afford access to their medical records. She knew they likely
needed the records to enforce their rights in civil actions, workers'
compensation claims, Social Security determinations or other legal proceedings.
The hospitals eventually settled the case by agreeing to lower their fees
substantially. They also agreed to support efforts to change the law to limit the
fees, which ultimately happened. But Montgomery declined to back those
If Montgomery had her way, hospitals would still be charging consumers
outrageous fees for medical records. To have an attorney general who is on the side
of the public, voters should reject Montgomery's attempt to regain the office
and instead support Democrat Marc Dann.
Joseph C. Sommer