Serving Southern Missouriís Eighth District

132 Cannon Building
Washington, DC 20515
339 Broadway
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
22 East Columbia
Farmington, MO 63640
612 Pine Street
Rolla, MO 65401
For Immediate Release:
October 7, 1999
Contact: Kristen L. Kruger

Emerson Votes in Support of Responsible Liability in Managed Care Reform

WASHINGTON, DC --- U.S. Representative Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Thursday, expressed her support for health care reform legislation that allows patients the right to sue their health care plan for not providing medically-necessary health care while at the same time protecting those employers and unions who provide strong health care insurance plans from being held liable for frivolous lawsuits.

Emerson strongly supports all elements of the Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act of 1999 (also referred to as the Norwood-Dingell bill), with the exception of the liability provisions. The elements of the Norwood-Dingell bill that Emerson supports include expanding access to specialists for patients, allowing women to choose an ob/gyn as their primary care provider, and allowing families to choose pediatricians as their children's primary care provider. In addition, the bill guarantees emergency room care, ensures local health care options, and mandates that plans provide clear and concise information pertaining to the plan's benefits and coverage options. Two of the substitute bills, for which Emerson voted, also contained these provisions.

Emerson stated, "In the health care insurance industry, a few bad apples exist. And those bad health care plans should be held liable in a court of law for acting irresponsibly in providing health care to consumers." Emerson referred to one of several cases in which she has had to intervene on behalf of a patient who was falsely denied medically-necessary health care.

However, Emerson also added, "Any managed care reform legislation must have responsible liability language and not liability that doesn't protect employers or labor unions who provide quality health care coverage." For this reason, Emerson voted against the Norwood-Dingell bill (H.R. 2723), and in support of two substitute bills that would have encouraged companies to continue providing quality health care and also protect patients who have been unjustly denied access to necessary medical care. Emerson believes that the liability language offered in the Norwood-Dingell bill, which passed the House by a vote of 275-151, "creates barriers to employers and unions who provide good health care from continuing their coverage due to fear that they will be held liable for frivolous lawsuits."

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