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Sep 12, 2000
CONTACT: Jamie Court- 310-874-9989
Former HMO Medical Reviewer & Consumer Advocate Challenge Rep. Northup: Support Patients' Right To Sue HMO In September or Waive Own Right To Sue
Gov't Employees Not Limited Like Private Sector Employees On HMO Lawsuits: HMO Whistleblower Tells Of HMO Abuses, Asks Northrup To Sign Rights WaiverLouisville, Kentucky -- Dr. Linda Peeno, a former medical reviewer at Humana, and consumer advocate Jamie Court today called upon Congressman Anne Northup to either vote for the patient's right to sue in Congress this September or sign a waiver of her own right to file a claim against an HMO. As a government employee, Northup is not limited in her right to sue an HMO like patients with private sector employer-paid coverage.
Peeno and Court delivered an official waiver to Northrup after a press conference in front of her Louisville office. The House of Representatives is expected to vote again on patients' rights legislation in September.
"I recognize that it is unfair for me as a public servant to have greater remedies against an HMO than my constituents," the waiver reads.
Jamie Court, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, explained that the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act or ERISA, which precludes 125 million private sector employees from recovering damages, does not apply to government employees like Northup. Northup already opposed the bi-partisn Norwood-Dingell legislation that would reform ERISA last year.
"If Congresswoman Northup is unwilling to change her 'no' vote to 'aye,' she should be willing to subject herself to the same limited remedies as her constituents," said Jamie Court, co-author of Making A Killing: HMOs and the Threat To Your Health (Common Courage Press, 1999). "Anything less would be hypocritical. All patients need the same big stick of a lawsuit to threaten their HMOs as some government workers have today. Representative Northup must put the public interest about HMOs' interests."
Among Northup's top 20 donors according to the Center for Responsive Politics are Blue Cross/Blue Shield ($8,000) and Humana ($5,550).
The waiver continues, "I pledge to support the federal, bi-partisan HMO patients' bill of rights (known as the Norwood-Dingell legislation) when it comes before me for a vote or I will waive my own legal remedies as a government worker against my HMO or health insurer. I voluntarily subject myself to the limits of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act or ERISA in any lawsuit I may try to file on behalf of myself or my family against an HMO or insurer, although ERISA does not cover government employees."
The Foundation For Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a non-profit, non-partisan consumer watchdog group based in Santa Monica, CA. Making A Killing can be found on the Internet at www.makingakilling.org.
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