Proposed new rules
expanding patients’ rights may be helpful, but they are “no
substitute for a strong patients’ bill of rights like the
Norwood-Dingell bill,” said AMA Chair D.
Ted Lewers, MD, in a letter published in today’s New
The administration rules, announced last week, would set
new federal standards for the handling of claims under
employee health benefit plans.
However, the rules do not do not address critical issues
like emergency services, timely access to needed specialty
care and making sure that medical decisions are left to
patients and their doctors, Dr. Lewers noted. Nor do the rules
give patients the right to hold HMOs accountable for injuries
or death resulting from improper delay or denial of care.
“HMOs are the only entity in our society that cannot be
held legally accountable when they do harm,” Dr. Lewers wrote.
“Americans know that's wrong; 87 percent support a strong
patients' bill of rights. Yet a few lawmakers in the Senate
beholden to insurance companies continue to block passage.”
Read Dr. Lewers’ full letter