The new Democratic Senate leadership is preparing to revive the patients rights battle by bringing S. 283, one of two major, competing patients rights bills, to the Senate floor.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., has identified S. 283, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and John McCain, R-Ariz., as a top legislative priority.
The Health Insurance Association of America, Washington, is reacting by preparing an analysis suggesting that S. 283 would allow virtually unlimited damages both in federal and in state courts.
The Health Benefits Coalition, Washington, which represents employers, has announced a series of television, radio and print advertisements attacking the liability provisions in S. 283.
The major difference between S. 283 and S. 889, the bill supported by President Bush, is treatment of health plan liability.
S. 283 would allow patients to sue health plans for damages under state law.
S. 889 would allow patients to sue to recover both economic and noneconomic damages, but cap noneconomic damage awards at $500,000.