Skip banner
HomeSourcesHow Do I?OverviewHelp
Return To Search FormFOCUS
Search Terms: managed care reform

Document ListExpanded ListKWICFULL format currently displayed

Previous Document Document 149 of 322. Next Document

Copyright 1999 The Buffalo News  
The Buffalo News

November 8, 1999, Monday, CITY EDITION


LENGTH: 457 words



Just in case you still thought Congress was interested in representing you:

House Speaker Dennis Hastert last week rigged the membership of a conference committee on managed-care reform in a blatant attempt to deny Americans the right to sue their HMOs for damages caused by denial of care.

Under intense political pressure, the House and Senate finally paid attention to Americans' concerns about managed care this year, each passing its own reform bill. While the Senate legislation did not grant the right to sue, the House version did, but not because the scales suddenly fell from the eyes of the Republican leadership. It happened because rank-and-file Republicans repudiated their leadership and joined Democrats to approve the measure.

Normal practice is for Congress to name a conference committee to iron out differences between competing bills before sending a final measure to the president for approval or veto. What is not normal is for one of the chambers to stack the committee in order to sabotage its own bill. But then, this is not a normal House.

Time after time, Hastert has shown himself to be speaker in name only. On such high-profile subjects as gun control and support of American action in Kosovo, Hastert has taken a back seat to Majority Whip Tom DeLay, a radical in Republican's clothing. It's not clear at this point if DeLay is pulling Hastert's strings on this matter or if the speaker really believes Americans should be denied access to the courts when they suffer harm because of an HMO's refusal to authorize necessary care.

Not that it matters. Hastert's action is a slap in the face of voters either way. A 1998 poll by Time and CNN showed that 63 percent of Americans want this recourse, while a survey last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 60 percent of employers support giving them that right.

So why would House leaders object? You might have thought that after the drubbing congressional Republicans took in the 1998 elections, their leaders would have learned at least to pretend to respect the public's wishes. Not these guys. They want what they want, and what they want more than anything is the kind of money that HMOs and other lobbyists can give them.

Since 1997, HMOs have given $ 629,000 in "soft money" contributions to Republicans and $ 367,000 to Democrats, according to Common Cause. Other health insurers gave $ 1.1 million to Republicans and $ 443,000 to Democrats. It's a powerful incentive to try to fix the game, and that's what Hastert has done.

Sometimes, politicians can do that without being found out. This time, it's out in the open. It was an underhanded move Hastert and his party masters made -- one they could rue next November.

LOAD-DATE: November 10, 1999

Previous Document Document 149 of 322. Next Document


Search Terms: managed care reform
To narrow your search, please enter a word or phrase:
About LEXIS-NEXIS® Academic Universe Terms and Conditions Top of Page
Copyright © 2001, LEXIS-NEXIS®, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All Rights Reserved.