Press Release

June 16, 1999

Contact:
Adrienne Hahn, hhnadr@consumer.org
202/462-6262
Consumers Union's Washington, DC Office

 

Consumers Union Says that Boehner Bill Does More Harm to Consumers
Than No Managed Care Legislation at All

WASHINGTON - "The so-called managed care reform bill, H.R 2089 introduced by Representative John A. Boehner (R-OH) and expected to be marked-up by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Employee/Employer Relations does more harm to consumers than no legislation at all," according to Adrienne Hahn, legislative counsel at the DC office of Consumers Union.

Consumers must have a means for holding managed care plans legally accountable for medical negligence. The ability of a consumer to hold a managed care plan fully accountable for sub-standard health care that results in injury or death is essential. Compensation to injured consumers acts as an important counter-balance to financial incentives to increase profits through under-treatment of patients. In fact, the effectiveness of all other patient protections hinges on whether managed care plans remain immunized from responsibility for egregious behavior.

Meaningful managed care reform legislation must include a truly independent external grievance and appeals systems. In a truly independent external grievance and appeals process, the state selects the review entity. "Today, many consumers are trapped within their health plan, which is totally in control of treatment decisions," said Adrienne Hahn. "The result: consumers risk not getting the medical care they need when bottom-line considerations, not medical appropriateness, have undue influence on decision-making."

"While an adequate external review is important, full accountability can only be achieved when consumers have further recourse in the courts. Ultimately, the purpose of liability is not to encourage lawsuits, but to prevent them, by providing a meaningful incentive for plans not to deny needed treatment in the first place."

Unfortunately, H.R. 2089 does not provide for either an independent external appeals process or a means for holding managed care plans legally accountable when they deliver sub-standard health care. Consequently, Consumers Union urges members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to vote against H.R. 2089. Instead, Consumers Union looks forward to working with Congress to pass meaningful and comprehensive patient protection legislation as embodied in the Patients' Bill of Rights Act, H.R. 358 that does not include anti-consumer measures such as Association Health Plans which could make health care less affordable and reduce health benefits consumers receive.

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Consumers Union, Publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, is an independent nonprofit testing, educational and information organization serving only the consumers. We are a comprehensive source of unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health, nutrition and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, our mission has been to test products, inform the public and protect consumers.

 


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