Patients' Rights For All Patients?

Lots of states have acted. Now it's Washington's turn

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.

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.