Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.) attempted to revive the patients' rights issue by introducing one bill to establish a Patient Protection Act ensuring access to certain kinds of care and a second bill, the ERISA Clarification Act, to guarantee that state law on medical necessity supersedes the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Norwood acknowledged that such issues may lack momentum given the sour economy and a possible war with Iraq, but said insurers' and employers' increasing concern about the cost of healthcare potentially threatens the quality of care patients receive. The Patient Protection Act resembles a bill passed by the House last year, but allows states to set more stringent standards than federal law. The Health Insurance Association of America said the bills would impose "hundreds of new, duplicative federal regulations, throw out the insurers' right to contract and require insurers to rewrite millions of existing insurance policies, all of which will require higher health insurance premiums." -- by Tony Fong
Norwood introduces new patients' bill of rights
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