Today’s Health Care Check-Up: — August 23, 1999
Not All Doctors Support Health Care
"As attractive as the idea of suing health maintenance organizations
seems, it will simply further obstruct American health care by opening up
new income opportunities for lawyers."
— Dr. Neal Hermanowicz M.D., letter to the editor,
The New York Times, 8/17/99
Who else opposes subjecting health plans and the employers who sponsor
them to costly, expanded health care lawsuits?
First, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee
rejected expanded liability during its mark-up of the so-called "Patients’
Bill of Rights" in March. Then the full Senate stripped expanded liability
from the "Patients’ Bill of Rights" during floor debate on July 15.
Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois,
Iowa, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana,
New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington and West
Virginia have all rejected expanded liability.
- Labor union health plan administrators
"External review we can live with. We cannot live with monetary damage
awards that may benefit an individual or his heirs, but bankrupt a [health
care] plan and wipe out the health care coverage of the thousands of
workers, retirees and family members who depend on, and finance, the
plan." (James S. Ray before the House Employee-Employer Relations
Subcommittee on behalf of the National Coordinating Committee on
Multi-Employer Plans, which coordinates the health plans of millions of
union workers, May 6, 1999)
- President Clinton’s own hand-picked Commission on Health Care
"At its final meeting today, the 34-member panel side-stepped the
politically explosive question of whether to authorize compensation or
create new legal remedies for patients." (New York Times, 3/13/98,
on Clinton’s Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the
Health Care Industry)
"Likewise, the Democratic bill would make it easier for aggrieved
patients to sue managed care companies that denied either care or
reimbursement. Our preference would be to try a system of external appeals
before subjecting an even greater share of medical practice to the
vagaries of litigation." (The Washington Post,
Put patients first – not trial lawyers. Oppose expanded
health care lawsuits in the Dingell-Norwood health care bill.