Norwood-Dingell Patients’ Rights ‘Compromise’ Likely
A "compromise" version of the House-passed Norwood-Dingell patients' bill of rights (HR 2723) has enough Senate support to make it "filibuster-proof" and will likely pass this year, according to a spokesperson for Rep. Charles Norwood (R-Ga.), the bill's co-sponsor. The compromise "closely resembles" the original Norwood-Dingell bill in that it would allow patients to sue their health plans. However, the "key difference" between the two proposals is that while Norwood-Dingell did not set a cap on damages awarded to patients, the new bill limits compensation to $5 million. Last session, the House passed the Norwood-Dingell bill, but the Senate passed a scaled-back version of the bill that would not allowed patients to sue their health plans. The two sides "failed to compromise" on the issue, and the bill never gained final approval. This year, however, the House version of the bill has picked up some support in the Senate, and 60 senators are now "willing" to vote in favor of the measure, enough to prevent a filibuster, Norwood spokesperson John Stone said. Stone added that the bill has garnered support from three new Senate Democrats -- Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Jon Corzine (N.J.) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) -- as well as six GOP senators, who have "privately" agreed to back Norwood-Dingell. Norwood, along with the bill's co-sponsor Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), will unveil the new version of the bill tommorow (AP/Houston Chronicle, 2/3).