Bush-Norwood Agreement On Patients’ Rights Meets Opposition

By

Washington

A major employers group said it opposes the breakthrough agreement between President Bush and Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., on patients bill of rights legislation.

Neil Trautwein, director of employment policy for the National Association of Manufacturers, said that while the agreement is better than the alternative, it would still expose employers to significant liability.

For further industry reaction to the agreement, see National Underwriters Web site at www.NationalUnderwriter.com.

Specifically, the agreement divides jurisdiction over health disputes between federal and state courts.

Federal courts will have jurisdiction over all contractual matters and all cases filed against employers.

State courts will have jurisdiction over medical disputes filed against health insurance plans.

However, while plaintiffs could recover unlimited economic damages from either employers or health plans, non-economic and punitive damages would be capped at $1.5 million each, for a total of $3 million.

The cap applies to all lawsuits, whether filed in state or federal court.

Moreover, the agreement bars class-action lawsuits against health plans or employers under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act or the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

If the House approves legislation containing the Bush-Norwood agreement, it would be up to a House-Senate Conference Committee to work out differences between the House bill and the legislation approved earlier by the Senate.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, August 13, 2001. Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.


Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company. All rights reserved. Contact Webmaster