Norwood Introduces Legislation For Patients Bill Of Rights

By

Washington

Rep. Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., has introduced “patients bill of rights” legislation, which, he says, has bipartisan support.

The legislation closely tracks a bill approved by the House on Aug. 2, 2001, which is based on an agreement worked out by Norwood and the White House.

The legislation died in the 107th Congress when the House and Senate were unable to reach an agreement on a consensus bill.

Norwood says that at a time of rising health care costs, his patient protection bill, which at press time did not yet have a number, is even more important.

“When insurers and employers are concerned about the cost of health care, the quality of patient care can be jeopardized for the bottom line,” Norwood says in a statement. “We must put laws in place that make certain the concern for the bottom line doesnt go too far.”

But health insurers are blasting the legislation, saying it would drive up health insurance costs and exacerbate the uninsured crisis.

Donald Young, president of the Health Insurance Association of America, calls the legislation a “bad idea whose time has already passed.”

“Rather than being a constructive step toward better health care, it is instead a worn-out measure that would hurt the very consumers it purports to help,” Young says.

The legislation establishes mandatory internal and external appeals processes for health plans regarding whether a treatment plan is medically necessary.

In addition, it mandates access to emergency health services, timely access to specialists, and access to certain types of drugs and medical devices.

The legislation also bars health plans from placing restrictions on the advice that providers offer to patients and bars certain physician incentive systems.

The bill also bars plans from retaliating against any participant or providers who file a grievance.

Norwood says the provisions in his legislation are supported by almost every returning member of Congress.

“This is a bill that should pass the House under suspension and the Senate by unanimous consent,” he says.

But Young says the legislation would impose hundreds of new, duplicative federal regulations on health plans, throw out the insurers right to contract and require insurers to rewrite millions of existing insurance policies.

All of this, he says, would require higher premiums.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Edition, February 10, 2003. Copyright 2003 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.