PATIENTS’ RIGHTS: AMA Supports Bipartisan Plan
The American Medical Association Monday endorsed the "Democrat-led House plan" that would permit patients to sue their HMOs for delayed or denied care, guarantee access to specialists and emergency room treatment and allow doctors to give referrals outside their patients' networks, the AP/Washington Post reports. The AMA will join other medical groups, including the American Dental Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in a national advertising campaign to drum up support for the legislation, sponsored by Reps. John Dingell (D-MI) and Charlie Norwood (R-GA). "This bill delivers the essential protections patients and voters are demanding," AMA president Dr. Thomas Reardon said. "Doctors will be allowed to make medical decisions. Health plans will be held accountable for their actions" (8/24). About 20 House Republicans have "joined Democrats in sponsoring the bill," in direct defiance of House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), who has "tried unsuccessfully to unite [his] slim majority behind a Republican bill." In a concession to those who support a patient's right to sue, Hastert has decided to bring an alternative bill, which includes a limited liability provision, to the floor for a vote. That bill, sponsored by Reps. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and John Shadegg (R-AZ), "also would contain provisions to help the uninsured get health insurance" (AP/New York Times. "With over 20 House Republicans cosponsoring the Norwood-Dingell bill, it is clear that a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives is ready to vote for a strong and enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights," President Clinton said Monday (White House release, 8/23).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.