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Of robbery, risk and common sense

To the editor: Your editorial on Jan. 13, "Court unties business' hands," supporting the "business break" given to KFC by the California Supreme Court poorly considered the risk-control features present when an armed robber comes into a business.

The latest research and most major businesses clearly support the idea that employees must comply with the demands for money by an armed robber (for example, see American Assn. of Convenience Stores' exhaustive survey in 1993). Indeed, the Southland Corp. recently fired one of its top employees when he failed to follow company policy by confronting an armed criminal-and publicized the termination.

Besides the data, common sense tells us that the business whose store clerk violates company policy and ordinary prudence which harms a customer should bear the responsibility for the cost of harm. The common law of negligence asks no more, but was sadly denied by the California Supreme Court in Brown vs. KFC.

In spite of the foreseeability of harm in this situation, and the frequency of crime, you imply that businesses are unfairly treated if held responsible. Such disproportionate favoritism generally fails to convince high courts because the long-term societal benefit is best served by placing responsibility on those responsible. In this case, it would be the robber, and KFC and its employee. If any one of us reading this were a customer in a similar situation, we would expect the clerk to comply, wouldn't we?

Next time, a consultation would be warranted with a loss-control specialist, such as with James McIntyre, who wrote in your Perspective section (BI, July 29, 1996) that "easy steps can prevent crimes"-No. 10 "Educate your staff."

Ron Morgan

Attorney & loss-control consultant

Albuquerque, N.M.

States moving to restrict managed care

To the editor: Dennis Nirtaut's 1997 preview of benefits issues (BI, Jan. 13) highlighted a subject that should be of great concern to employee benefits managers: the growing involvement of state legislatures in regulating and restricting managed care.

Managed care has successfully reined in the double-digit increases in costs of employee health benefits that businesses grappled with during the last decade. Now that accomplishment is threatened by legislation which, in the guise of "patient protection," would actually impose sweeping regulations on managed care. These proposed layers of regulation, combined with limits on how plans could establish networks and negotiate reimbursement rates, will directly impact HMOs' ability to hold down premium costs.

We will need the active and vocal support of American businesses-specifically, benefits managers who know and can discuss the benefits of a managed care approach-in fighting harmful legislative activity that does not enhance quality of care and only serves to increase our operating costs. HMOs have successfully made health care coverage more affordable for businesses and employees. Businesses that want this to continue should support managed care in both the national and state legislative arenas.

Bob Burger

Executive Director

Illinois Assn. of HMOs