NU Online News Service, July 3, 12:10 p.m. – The National Association of Health Underwriters, Arlington, Va., says the health insurance industry has won some quiet victories in recent action on the Senate version of the Kennedy-McCain managed care bill.
If passed by the House and signed into law by President Bush, the bill would expand patients’ ability to sue health plans for actual damages and other damages in federal court. Patients could also sue some employers that manage self-funded health plans.
Health insurers, managed care companies and employers have lobbied hard against the bill, arguing it would drive up costs for managed care companies and give employers an incentive to drop health benefits.
The Senate approved the Kennedy-McCain bill 59-36, and it voted 57-43 against an amendment that would have completely shielded employers from health plan liability lawsuits, according to a NAHU policy analysis..
But the Senate voted 98-0 to approve an amendment that would require patients to exhaust all internal and external appeals before going to court, NAHU analysts write.