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AMA: Administration rules no substitute for strong patients’ bill of rights

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 York Times.

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

Last updated: Apr 11, 2001

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