Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights Corporateering
  Home | Volunteer | Donate | Subscribe | FTCR Websites | Books | Site Map   
Main Page
Press Releases
In the Media
Factsheets
Reports
Medical Malpractice Stories
HMO Arbitration Abuse Report
Casualty of the Day
 
 OTHER TOPICS
 - Corporate Accountability
 - Insurance
 - Citizen Advocacy
 - The Justice System
 - Billing Errors
 - Energy
 - About FTCR


Read Making a Killing

home / healthcare / press releases

NEWS RELEASE
Jun 21, 2004


CONTACT: Jerry Flanagan, (415) 497-1710

Supreme Court Decision Means Patients Have Fewer HMO Rights than President Bush and Congress

Bush's Support Violates Campaign Promises
A decision released today by the U.S. Supreme Court will mean that patients who receive health coverage from private sector employers will not have the same legal rights that President Bush and members of Congress have when HMOs cause harm, according to the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).

President Bush's support of the HMOs' case violates promises he made while campaigning for the presidency to protect state patient rights laws including a 1997 Texas law. Since the Texas law went into effect, 10 other states (California, Georgia, Washington, Arizona, Maine, Oklahoma, West Virginia, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Oregon) have passed similar legislation allowing patients the "right to sue" when they are harmed by a health insurer.

In a letter sent to President Bush today FTCR wrote:

"Ironically, you, members of the Supreme Court, and Congressional representatives can use state laws to hold your HMOs accountable, but the victims of HMOs who work for private sector employers have no remedy because of your action with the Court and inaction on legislation to fix the unintended preemption of state patients' rights laws ... Among your campaign Pioneers (bundlers of $100,000 or more in contributions) are seven former or current HMO executives, including UnitedHealth, Group CEO William McGuire and former Health Net Chairman Dr. Malik Hasan. This gives the unmistakable impression that HMO money has bought your advocacy on behalf of HMOs and at the expense of patients. That's why you must act now on a HMO patients bill of rights that includes liability for HMOs. Show America the plan you promised during the campaign and ask Congress to pass it."

The issue of HMO liability came up in the third debate between then-candidate Bush and then-Vice President Al Gore on Oct. 17, 2000. When Gore said that he, unlike Bush, supported a national patient's bill of rights and allowing patients to sue HMOs, Bush objected. In the letter to President Bush, FTCR wrote:

"In the debate you said, you did not want a federal law to 'supersede good law like we've got in Texas.' How do you justify that statement with the fact that in March your administration presented arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court that the same Texas law touted by you as a candidate should be invalidated because it is pre-empted by a federal law? This is the opposite of what your Texas Department of Insurance argued in a lower court in 1997."

FTCR letter to President Bush:

President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington D.C.

Dear President Bush,

The issue of HMO liability came up in the third debate between you and Vice President Gore on Oct. 17, 2000. When Gore said that he, unlike you, supported a national patient's bill of rights and allowing patients to sue HMOs, you objected:

You said, "It's not true. I do support a national patient's bill of rights."

In this and other statements, you claimed title to a Texas HMO liability law. Nonetheless, you and your administration coaxed the U.S. Supreme Court to its decision today that HMO patients trying to use state HMO liability laws have no standing do so.

The Supreme Court's decision today will mean that patients who have been harmed by HMOs have no remedy, no matter how egregious the mistreatment or serious the injury, unless they are government officials, church workers or on public assistance programs-- people not subject to preemption under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Ironically, you, members of the Supreme Court, and Congressional representatives can use state laws to hold your HMOs accountable, but the victims of HMOs who work for private sector employers have no remedy because of your action with the Court and inaction on legislation to fix the unintended preemption of state patients' rights laws by ERISA.

Unless you and Congress act on an HMO Patients' Bill of Right, the White House has declared war on HMO patients across the nation.

Since 2000 your administration has opposed several attempts at Patient Bill of Rights legislation in Congress even though at least 170 million Americans are enrolled in HMOs and other managed care organizations.

In the 2000 debate you said, "As a matter of fact, I brought Republicans and Democrats together to do just that in the state of Texas to get a patient's bill of rights through. We're one of the first states that said you can sue an HMO for denying you proper coverage."

Since the 1997 Texas law went into effect, eleven states have passed similar legislation allowing patients the "right to sue" when they are harmed by a health insurer. Your flip-flop on state rights and the weak federal law send a conciliatory message to health insurers who regularly override the recommendations of physicians and limit or deny coverage for medical care or treatment.

In the debate you said, you did not want a federal law to "supersede good law like we've got in Texas."

How do you justify that statement with the fact that in March your administration presented arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court that the same Texas law touted by you as a candidate should be invalidated because it is pre-empted by a federal law? This is the opposite of what your Texas Department of Insurance argued in a lower court in 1997.

Among your campaign Pioneers (bundlers of $100,000 or more in contributions) are seven former or current HMO executives, including UnitedHealth, Group CEO William McGuire and former Health Net Chairman Dr. Malik Hasan. This gives the unmistakable impression that HMO money has bought your advocacy on behalf of HMOs and at the expense of patients. That's why you must act now on a HMO patients bill of rights that includes liability for HMOs. Show America the plan you promised during the campaign and ask Congress to pas it.

Regards,

Jamie Court Jerry Flanagan
(310) 392-0522 ext. 327 (415) 497-1710

-End-

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a non-profit and non-partisan consumer advocacy group. For more information, please visit us on the web at http://www.ConsumerWatchdog.org




back to top

©2000-2004 FTCR. All Rights Reserved. Read our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy | Contact Us