PATIENTS’ RIGHTS: Norwood, Dems Pan GOP Compromise
While congressional Republicans struggle to reach a compromise on the stalled managed care reform bill, one pivotal GOP player has broken ranks with party leaders, launching a "blistering" attack against an emerging plan that many Republicans believe could pass both chambers, the Washington Post reports. With the recent collapse of talks with Democrats, House and Senate Republicans met alone in a "grueling" nine-hour bargaining session Thursday to hammer out an agreement on patients' rights legislation. The emerging GOP plan would cover more people than Republicans originally proposed and would allow patients to sue their health plans under limited circumstances. Despite the compromise, Democrats and some key Republicans argue that the plan still does not go far enough to protect patients. "Anyone who voted for a package like that is no friend of patients," Rep. Charles Norwood (R-Ga.), co-sponsor of the House-passed bill, said. He called the plan "an effort to kill the reform movement" and warned that it may take weeks to agree on a bill that would pass in the House. An aide to a key GOP negotiator added that Norwood's statement "could kill the bill." House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said, however, that the new bill could pass both chambers and that he hoped to move the legislation to the House floor by this week. "I think we put the best deal we could possibly put together. I would hope [Norwood] would be with us," he said (Dewar, 6/24). Top Democrats scoffed at the Republican proposal, saying that the agreement would never become law. "A sham bill won't pass the House, and it won't be signed into law by the president," Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) said, adding that "a partisan Republican bill that fails to provide patients the protections they need and deserve will be very difficult to pass in the Senate" ( AP/Baltimore Sun, 6/24).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.