Skip banner
HomeSourcesHow Do I?OverviewHelp
Return To Search FormFOCUS
Search Terms: patients bill of rights

Document ListExpanded ListKWICFULL format currently displayed

Previous Document Document 262 of 900. Next Document

Copyright 1999 The Seattle Times Company  
The Seattle Times

August 06, 1999, Friday Final Edition


LENGTH: 753 words



A COMPROMISE BILL crafted by a group of GOP dissidents and Democrats contains reforms that are far broader than the House Republican leadership or the Senate supports.
A rebellious faction of House Republicans has joined forces with Democrats on a bill that would guarantee new protections to all Americans in managed-care plans. The compromise, reached on the eve of Congress' monthlong recess, was a setback for the House Republican leadership on an issue that is of acute concern to American voters. For weeks, emissaries of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., have struggled without success to rein in a growing number of party dissidents - led by a core of lawmakers with medical backgrounds - who favor broader reforms than the GOP supports.

The consensus bill was drafted by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., and Rep. Charles Norwood, R-Ga., a dentist who has been a leader in the drive to regulate managed-care plans.

In announcing the bipartisan agreement, Norwood said Hastert will have no choice but to allow a vote on the bill, predicting that it will have nearly 100 Republican supporters by the time Congress returns after Labor Day. The GOP holds a slender five-vote margin in the House.

"We need a law that will protect patients, not a bill that will protect politicians at the November ballot box," Norwood said.
Tougher than Senate version
In July, the Republican-controlled Senate passed managed-care legislation that is significantly more restrictive than the compromise House bill. It would cover only some of the nation's insured, for example, and would not permit managed-care plans to be sued for denying care.

Dingell, Norwood and others stressed that their measure would cover all those who have insurance.

President Clinton, who has vowed to veto the Senate approach if it reached his desk, was enthusiastic about the House bill.

"Unlike the partisan Senate-passed bill, this bipartisan initiative is a patients' bill of rights' not just in name but in reality," Clinton said.
What the bill would do
The legislation would guarantee patients access to specialists and coverage when they go to an emergency room without authorization by their health plan, if the patient believes he or she is in an emergency situation.

It would give patients the right to appeal a health plan's denial of coverage to an independent external review board of health professionals with expertise in the patient's illness. The independent board's decision would be binding, and if the health plan failed to comply, it could be fined up to $ 250,000.

Under the legislation, managed-care plans could not forbid doctors who work for them from discussing expensive treatments with their patients.
Patients could sue plans
But the provision that provoked an immediate onslaught from health plans and the business community was the one that would give patients the right to sue health plans under existing state negligence laws for denial of treatment that results in injury or death.

Under current law, the health plans that cover 125 million Americans generally have not been liable under state malpractice or negligence laws. The most that a patient can recover is the cost of the benefit that was denied. For example, if a plan denies a patient coverage for a mammogram and it later turns out that the patient has breast cancer, the patient can recover only the cost of the mammogram.

In deference to concerns that earlier versions of the bill would have encouraged lawsuits and perhaps allowed employers as well as health plans to be sued, the bill's authors stipulated that state dollar limits on damages would apply to lawsuits brought under the bill. Additionally, plans could not be held liable for punitive damages if they complied with the findings of the external review. Trying to hold his fractured party together, Hastert said today he would bring an HMO bill to the floor that includes new rights to sue managed-care companies. He promised a floor vote in September on an alternative proposal being developed by Reps. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and John Shadegg, R-Ariz. It's the first time a Republican congressional leader has backed an expanded right to sue - something Democrats have been insisting on since the managed-care debate began more than a year ago. However, few details of the alternative provision were available today.
Compiled from reports by The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press.


LOAD-DATE: August 7, 1999

Previous Document Document 262 of 900. Next Document


Search Terms: patients bill of rights
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.