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Jun 21, 2001
Patients Rights' Group Asks, Would The Corporation Limit Own Right To Sue?
Would Any Corporation Accept "Compromise" For HMO Patients For Itself?Jamie Court, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, responded today to a proposed HMO patients' rights compromise in Washington, D.C. The compromise would only allow patients the right to sue for damages in state court if an independent review panel of doctors decided for the patient and the HMO did not implement that decision.
Court noted that a medical review process is far different than a judicial process and questioned whether corporations would accept such a compromise with their own rights. He also noted that in many emergency medical situations, where HMOs control a patient's life, there is no time for an independent medical review. Court stated:
Would any American corporation accept the "compromise" Republican leaders propose for HMO patients? Would any Fortune 500 corporation give up its absolute legal right to sue a contractor that fails to deliver for a non-judicial system where an informal panel of contractors, not a judge, reviews documents about the dispute and decides who is right or wrong based on a contractor's standards, not legal standards? The Fortune 500 company would not have the right to testify, only submit papers, it would not be present for the deliberations and it could only sue if this private reviewing panel decided for it and the contractor that is the subject of the dispute did not implement the decision. In a matter not dealing with life and death, would any corporation waive its legal rights for such a non-judicial process? This is precisely what is being advocated for HMO patients whose life and health are at stake.
The Foundation For Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a non-profit, non-partisan consumer group. Court is also coauthor of "Making A Killing: HMOs and The Threat To Your Health," (Common Courage Press, 1999) www.consumerwatchdog.org, www.makingakilling.org
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