PATIENTS’ RIGHTS: House Vote Pushes Conferees on Reform
The House voted Tuesday to "jumpstart the conference on managed care reform legislation," advising conferees to "take steps" to begin this year's debate on patients' rights, CongressDaily/A.M. reports. During the floor debate, Rep. Charles Norwood (R-Ga.), sponsor of last year's House bill, said that the final bill must include provisions to allow patients to sue their HMOs if denied treatment. He said if that option is excluded from the legislation, it would be a "massive concession." Last year's opposition to the bill by Majority Leader Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and other GOP senators has softened this year. Norwood said, "People who have been our hard core opponents have offered us an olive branch," and in an effort to lobby his fellow Republicans on passage of the bill in its entirety, Norwood argued, "Now is not the time to embarrass anybody." Speaking to reporters after the Senate's weekly policy lunches, Majority Whip Don Nickles (R-Okla.) said he wanted to get the "politically potent patient protection issue off the table as soon as possible." Nickles said, "We want to get this thing wrapped up by the end of March," saying he hoped to see the bill passed through both chambers by Easter break (Rovner, 2/2).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.