PATIENTS’ RIGHTS: Panel Can’t Settle Enforcement Issue
President Clinton's health care quality commission, which initially endorsed a "patients' bill of rights," is "unlikely to recommend a way to enforce" it, CongressDaily reports. At a meeting at Princeton University Thursday night, the panel's executive director Janet Corrigan "said ... the commission will recommend a variety of ways the bill of rights ... could be implemented, including by legislation, regulation or voluntary action. But, as of now, it appears the panel will not endorse any of the options" (3/6). The New York Times reports that the president "had been hoping that the commission ... would call for federal legislation to enforce the bill of rights." However, the panel, which requires "virtual unanimity for any major recommendation," is divided between consumer advocates, who want federal legislation, and insurers and health plans, who favor voluntary compliance with the bill of rights. Ronald Pollack, executive director of Families USA, echoed the stance of consumers' rights groups, saying, "A right without a remedy is not a right. For us to walk away from this issue and be silent would be unconscionable." However, L. Ben Lytle, president of Anthem Inc., said, "I favor letting the market respond. Our company will voluntarily comply. If the market doesn't respond in the next three years, you can always come back and revisit the question." In the absence of a consensus, the panel instead will call for a "national dialogue regarding overhaul of compensation methods for individuals who are injured as a result of wrongful health care decisions" (Pear, 3/9).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.