January 24, 2000

SUPPORT PATIENTS’ RIGHTS UPHOLD PATIENT PROTECTIONS

Dear Conferee:

We are writing on behalf of state Public Interest Research Groups and consumers generally to urge you to uphold the common sense patient protections contained in the Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act, H.R. 2723. This bill, sponsored by Representatives Norwood and Dingell, overwhelmingly passed in the House on October 7, 1999. The Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act is the only legislation before the Conference Committee that truly protects consumers.

We urge you to include patient protections in the conference report that comes out of the conference committee. Most significantly, the bill must contain liability provisions that hold HMO’s fully accountable for their mistakes and the subsequent injuries consumers suffer. The liability provisions provide consumers access to fair remedies if health plan decisions cause them harm. The bill must include an independent external review process that assures that patients receive a fair and objective review process if their medical care was denied or insufficient. Such independent review mechanisms help to ensure that patients receive the best medical treatment possible. The bill must also ensure that medical decisions are made by medical experts and not by insurance bureaucrats. Unfortunately, the Senate bill’s provisions on these principles are unacceptably weak.

We therefore urge you to oppose any proposal that does not embody the principles of the Norwood/ Dingell bill. The Norwood-Dingell Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Reform legislation is the only managed care reform legislation in the Conference Committee that adequately protects consumers. Only legislation that contains these principles with out compromise will protect consumers. The Norwood-Dingell bill protects the most Americans and protects them best.

Sincerely,

Rachel Weintraub
Staff Attorney

   


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