Copyright 2000 The Kansas City Star Co.
November 30, 2000, Thursday METROPOLITAN
SECTION: OPINION; Pg. B6
LENGTH: 389 words
administration's new rules for many health plans
appear to give tens of
millions of Americans a better chance of
receiving the medical care that
they and their employers want.
Like various legislative proposals for a
patients' bill of
rights, some of the administration's new
rules seem quite basic. One
rule, for example, tells insurers to take no
more than 72 hours to
decide on claims for urgently needed care. This seems,
Another rule gives patients 180 days to file
appeals on claims,
rather than the current 60 days. Some health plans can be
confusing and bureaucratic; sometimes even obtaining written
instructions on appeal procedures can be difficult. So it is
unreasonable to shut off appeals after only 60 days.
Insurance Association of America again argues against
protections by complaining about the costs. But
should not be achieved by targeting sick
supposed to collect money from a large population to
help those who meet
with misfortune. It is backward to suggest that
people who meet with
misfortune should endure more suffering and
heavier financial burdens so
that everyone else can be protected from
the rising costs of medical care.
Although the next president could modify the new federal rules,
Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore presented
voters this year as strong advocates of patients'
rights. Bush has praised
provisions in Texas law that are similar to
the new federal rules.
The administration said it did not have the authority to make it
easier for patients to sue health plans that deny needed medical
Congressional action remains necessary to fix the right-to-sue
The unusual legal shield enjoyed by health plans encourages
practices by some companies and places more responsible plans
More important, broad restrictions on the
right to sue
irresponsible health plans put health-care consumers at risk.
Americans pay plenty of tax dollars to support the legal system.
They should be allowed to use that system when necessary to ensure
they and their families receive appropriate medical care.
LOAD-DATE: November 30, 2000