Representative Robert E. Andrews
New Jersey — First Congressional District
In the News

Date: November 3, 1999



WASHINGTON, D.C.— Congressman Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights) was chosen today by his colleagues to serve on the joint committee of Senators and Members of Congress who are writing the final version of the Patient's Bill of Rights.  Andrews, the ranking Democrat of the Employee-Employer Relations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce has been a key proponent of a Patient's Bill of Rights that would hold insurance companies accountable for the decisions which harm patients.

"I am pleased to have the opportunity to help write the final version of a law that will ensure that millions of Americans will not have their health put in jeopardy at the hands of bean-counters trying to cut costs," said Andrews.  "I work my hardest to ensure that the final version of this law includes provisions that enable patients to receive the treatment they need to be made well again and that insurance companies are held accountable  when they deny necessary care."

This newly updated Patients' Bill of Rights, H.R. 2723, would guarantee patients the right to sue their insurance company if the insurance company refuses to authorize treatment and the patient is injured as a result of the denial or the delay.  The proposed legislation would guarantee that patients could choose a specialist as their primary physician (for instance, women could choose an OB/GYN).  It would ensure that health plans cover the cost of emergency room care in cases where the patient legitimately believes an emergency exists, regardless of the final diagnosis.  H.R. 2723 would also ensure that patients and their doctor is permitted to talk to a health plan doctor, not an insurance company bureaucrat, when a plan denies coverage.  If the insurance plan still denies coverage, patients could take their appeal to an independent team of medical experts, who would have the final say.  

The external appeal system would establish a strong enforcement mechanism that gives patients the ability to hold their health plan accountable in the event that it caused them injury or death, and a standard for review that ensures that medical decisions are made in accordance with prudent medical practice, based on the patient's medical record, the available medical evidence, and the judgment of the treating physician and the health plan.   

The House-Senate Conference Committee will work out the differences between their separate versions of the Patients Bill of Rights.  
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