Patients' Rights For All Patients?
One of the issues most likely to transcend the partisan rancor in Washington this session is a patients' bill of rights. The House got so far last year as to pass a bill giving Americans the right to challenge medical decisions made by insurers and health maintenance organizations. The idea foundered in the Senate over a provision that would give patients the right to sue--provoking fierce opposition from the insurance industry and Corporate America. But the continued outcry over HMO-coverage denials has left Republicans, who opposed the bill, eager to find a compromise. On Feb. 6, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), announced their joint sponsorship of a bill that would allow lawsuits, but with some restrictions. The Bush Administration largely agrees but favors placing tighter restrictions on suits, such as caps on punitive damages awards.
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