Copyright 2000 The Kansas City Star Co.
September 12, 2000, Tuesday METROPOLITAN
SECTION: METRO; Pg. B3
LENGTH: 492 words
Patients' rights fight focuses on Missouri;
Votes by Ashcroft and Bond are
BYLINE: ALAN BAVLEY; The Kansas City Star
A patient-advocacy group Monday called on
Republican senators to support a patients' bill of
rights they had
previously voted against.
patients' bill of rights is being held hostage in the
Senate," Jamie Court, executive director of the Foundation for
and Consumer Rights, said at a news conference in Kansas
City. "Either of
these senators from Missouri could set (it) free."
patients' rights bill passed the House of
in the Senate by a close vote. U.S. Sens. Kit Bond and
John Ashcroft of
Missouri voted against it.
A second Senate vote is expected this month.
Court said the shift
of a single vote would ensure passage.
Norwood-Dingell bill would greatly expand the number of
persons allowed to
sue their insurance plans for damages if they are
refused services covered
by their policies.
Opponents of the bill argue it would raise the cost
care, forcing some employers to stop providing coverage to
Court said the cost would be small; just the threat of lawsuits
would serve as a deterrent to insurance companies from denying
"We don't expect lawsuits to be used," Court said. "But it
tremendous difference in the amount of respect given to
Having the right to sue would have helped in fighting her HMO
it denied her daughter, Sophia, therapy for autism, April
McCormick said at
the news conference.
McCormick said her HMO sent her daughter to doctors
unqualified to evaluate or treat autism and refused to authorize
payment for therapy.
"It took a great toll on my emotional health
and my family's
life," the Independence woman said. "No one should have to
through what my family did just to get treatment."
optimistic that at least one of the senators up for
November who voted against the bill would change his
vote. That could be
Ashcroft, he said.
Ashcroft is in a close race with Democratic opponent,
Gov. Mel Carnahan.
"I think (Ashcroft) should, and I think
he will, change his
vote," Court said, "given the heat on this issue
Ashcroft spokesman Greg Harris said the senator considered
Norwood-Dingell bill "a good effort, an important contribution to
"He wants to see a strong patients' bill of
rights passed by the
Senate, so decisions are made by doctors and
patients and not
insurance claims adjusters."
must protect employers from lawsuits, Harris
said. "We can't expose
employers to legal liability when they don't
do anything wrong."
Bond's office issued a statement from the senator that he
a strong patients' rights bill, "but the Norwood-Dingell
bill is the wrong
way to do that because it puts health care
decisions in the courtroom
instead of the doctor's office."