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This is Vic Snyder your Congressman in the 2nd Congressional District.

The big news out of Washington this week was the debate over healthcare, specifically what has been called the 'Patientís Bill of Rights.' As you know, Iím a family doctor, and while I think we have a lot of excellent insurance companies in this country and in Arkansas, there are time when patients get very frustrated with their dealings with their insurance companies. Weíve had a federal law called ERISA since 1974 that in many ways has removed the power of the states to say anything about how the insurance companies treat patients. If the Patientís Bill of Rights passes both houses of Congress and is signed into law, in my opinion that is going to change much for the better.

We had an excellent bipartisan vote yesterday, despite the efforts by the Republican leadership to kill the bill. We passed the Patientís Bill of Rights by a vote of 275 to 151, with 68 Republicans voting for the bill. The bill is called the Norwood/Dingell Bill after the Republican and Democratic co-sponsors.

Let me give you some examples of the kinds of things it deals with. It will make it easier for you to get your emergency room bill paid by your managed care company. It will make it easier to see the primary care doctor of your choice. Probably the most controversial part of it has been that right now it is illegal for many people to sue their insurance company, even if in their opinion and the opinion of experts the insurance company has been denying them care. This is what I would consider practicing medicine without a license. Under this Patientís Bill of Rights they would be held accountable if they are making medical decisions, just like doctors and nurses are accountable under state law if they are making medical decisions.

So, I thought it was a very good discussion on the House floor. I think that the vote was an excellent vote. We now need to see a good, strong bill come out of the U.S. Senate.

This is Vic Snyder, I look forward to seeing you in Arkansas this weekend.

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