PATIENTS’ RIGHTS: Conferees Agree on Three Issues
Congressional conferees have reached agreement on three patients' rights issues, and expressed hope that additional issues could be resolved next week, CongressDaily/A.M. reports. The three areas of agreement are:
- Patients should be able to visit any emergency room without prior approval from a health plan.
- Health plans cannot "discriminate against providers from participating in their network based on the type of license they have, such as a chiropractor's license."
- Health plan members should be allowed to designate a pediatrician as a primary care provider for a child.
Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles (R-Okla.) said, "I think we can make progress here," but Rep. Charles Norwood (R-Ga.), one of the sponsors of the legislation, said that the conference had "only dealt with simple issues." Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the other sponsor of the legislation, explained that "scope, appeals and who decides medical necessity" are the "make or break" issues in the conference. "The resolutions of these questions will enable us to resolve (more minor) questions," Dingell said (Fulton, 3/10). Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) said, "It's a good sign that we have been able to reach agreement on three important issues." He added, "At the same time, it is critical that we speed up the pace" (Murray, Wall Street Journal, 3/10).