The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights praised the United States Senate for passing the McCain-Kennedy legislation, the Patient Protection Act of 2001, today by a vote of 59-36. The bill provides 180 million patients with health care through private employers a remedy when an HMO wrongfully denies medically-necessary treatment or coverage for a benefit. It also sets a much-needed floor for national patients’ rights laws.
“If this bill is signed into law it will be the biggest victory for patients on Capital Hill in more than three decades,” said Jamie Court, executive director of the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. “This legislation protects the tens of millions of American in federally regulated health plans that are sponsored by self-funded employers and who are beyond the reach of state patients’ rights laws. It also extends to every American patient the right to challenge HMO denials of coverage under the fine print of HMO contracts in federal court for substantial damages. Most importantly the bill restores to HMOs and insurers the same accountability under the law as every other industry in American faces. This legislation is strong medicine for the epidemic of denials and delays patients experience at HMOs today. The threat of lawsuits, not actual litigation, will help the HMOs understand that the both the demand for lawyers and the supply of huge damage awards are completely within their control.”
The Foundation For Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest group. http://www.consumerwatchdog.org Court is also the co-author of Making A Killing: HMOs and the Threat To Your Health (Common Courage Press, 1999) http://www.makingakilling.org