PARCA: Norwood Wants Task Force Member Out
U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA), author of the Patient Access to Responsible Care Act (PARCA), called on House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) Friday to dismiss U.S. Rep. William Thomas (R-CA) from the GOP House task force working on a managed care reform bill so Thomas can work on his own proposal. Norwood's hand-delivered request stated: "Chairman Thomas should be given the opportunity to complete work on his proposal without the distraction the Task Force has become to him. Both the Task Force product and the Thomas proposal should be brought to the floor for consideration" (Norwood release, 6/8). The Augusta Chronicle reports Norwood is "frustrated by a lack of progress on" PARCA. "Thomas, who has floated a plan to offer tax breaks to Americans who buy their own health insurance, has been a critic" of Norwood's plan. John Stone, a spokesperson for Norwood, said Thomas "has been bottling up the Norwood bill."
Norwood's bill "would establish a 'bill of rights' for patients enrolled in managed care plans, including the right to seek emergency care without prior authorization, appeal adverse coverage decisions to an outside panel, choose out of network doctors and sue plan administrators for harm caused by medically negligent decisions." Supporters praise the bill "as the best way to end abuses that have cropped up since managed care has come to dominate the health care delivery system" (Williams, 6/9).
Two PARCA opponents, the Health Insurance Association of America and the Association of Private Pension and Welfare Plans are accusing PARCA supporters of "duplicity for proposing costly, legally enforceable rights, regulations, and legal remedies for private sector health plans while exempting federal health programs, including those that cover members of Congress and federal employees." HIAA President and former Congressman Bill Gradison said, "Once again, Congress is telling the private sector, 'do as I say, not as I do.' Clearly, Congress has one set of rules for private health plans, and another set of rules for its own health plans." Chip Kahn, HIAA's COO, added, "[t]his bill is a blatant example of that old-time Congressional hypocrisy. Obviously, its backers believe that it would be expensive and difficult to force its own health plans -- and those of other federal employees -- to adopt all of the provisions in the Patients' Bill of Rights" (HIAA release, 6/8).