Copyright 2000 Chicago Sun-Times, Inc.
October 02, 2000, MONDAY, Late
Sports Final Edition
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 7
LENGTH: 318 words
Opponents differ on patients' right to sue care plans
BYLINE: Jim Ritter
For patients frustrated at dealing with HMOs and other health plans, Al Gore
and George W. Bush both promise to support a broad range of new protections.
The Bush campaign brags that a patients bill of rights
that became law in Texas during his governorship is "considered as the most
comprehensive in the country."
Gore supports a patient protection bill
pending in Congress. "There's an emergency in America, all right, and it's the
lack of a strong enforceable patients bill of rights," he said.
These are among the rights both candidates support:
maintenance organizations cannot prohibit doctors from freely discussing
treatment options with patients.
Women should be able to see an
obstetrician-gynecologist without a referral.
HMOs must pay for
emergency room visits for cases a reasonable person would consider an emergency.
If a plan denies coverage, a patient can appeal to an independent review
These rights were included in a bill the Texas Legislature passed
But Bush opposed another provision that gave patients the right
to sue HMOs. "I have concerns about opening the door to new tort actions," he
said at the time.
Because he had mixed feelings about the bill, Bush
allowed it to become law without his signature.
Gore is a strong
supporter of the Norwood-Dingell bill pending in Congress that includes the
above rights, plus the right to sue. The Gore campaign said health plans should
be held accountable "for decisions that cause injury or death."
groups are lobbying hard on both sides of the issue. "There is not a single
other industry that is immune to suits by individuals it injures," said Carlton
Carl of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.
But Karen Ignagni
of the American Association of Health Plans said providing the right to sue
would "create a blank check for trial lawyers -- at the expense of
GRAPHIC: See related stories pages 6-7.
LOAD-DATE: October 03, 2000