PATIENTS’ RIGHTS: Norwood To Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill
Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA) plans to reintroduce his bipartisan managed care reform bill early in the next Congress, with a new provision allowing states to decide whether or not patients can sue their health plans. Norwood hopes the change will appease House Republicans -- who last year stripped a provision from Norwood's Patient Access To Responsible Care Act (PARCA) that would have allowed patients nationwide to sue their health plans -- as well as Senate Democrats, who charged the bill was too weak without the provision and refused to pass it. Norwood's bill would also allow women direct access to OB/GYNs, children direct access to pediatricians and mandate the coverage of emergency care without prior health plan authorization. In addition, the bill would ban "gag" clauses and allow patients to see doctors outside their network if they pay the difference in cost. Norwood believes the new version of his bill is a "middle ground between what is likely to emerge from Republican and Democratic congressional leaders." With House Speaker-to-be Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) strong background in health care and pressure on the next Congress to avoid a "do-nothing" stigma, Norwood feels the chance for passage of a patients' rights bill is good and hopes to "reintroduce his bill as soon as possible to keep the debate away from the partisan politics likely to dominate the 2000 presidential campaign" (Williams, Morris News Service/Augusta Chronicle, 12/27).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.