AMA Formally Opposes Frist Patients’ Rights Proposal
The American Medical Association yesterday stated its "formal" opposition to a patients' rights bill of rights (S 889) sponsored by Sens. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), John Breaux (D-La.), and James Jeffords (I-Vt.) saying it "does not go far enough" to protect patients, CongressDaily/AM reports. Speaking at a press briefing, AMA immediate past President Thomas Reardon said that not only does the measure "fall seriously short when it comes to offering patients protections against managed care abuses," and in some cases "the bill actually takes away important protections patients now have" (Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 5/24). The Frist-Breaux-Jeffords measure would give all patients with private health insurance a limited right to sue their health plans after exhausting an appeals process by an outside review panel. Patients could only sue health plans in federal court, not state court, and awards would be capped at $500,000. According to a "detailed analysis" conducted by the AMA, the measure "would override laws in nine states that currently allow patients to sue health plans in state courts and would roll back emerging federal case law on the subject." The AMA also said that the bill's requirement that state laws on patients' rights be only "consistent with" federal requirements would, in effect, allow states to have weaker laws than the federal standard. "With all due respect to Sen. Frist, America's patients deserve better than this," Reardon said(CongressDaily/AM, 5/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.