Employers Might Find Patient Protection In Frist Bill

March 13, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A new patients' bill of rights bill would allow employers to designate a third party as the entity responsible for making medical decisions, according to the most current drafting.

The bill, being drafted by Sens. William H. Frist (R-Tenn.), James Jeffords (R-Vt.), and John Breaux (D-La.) would provide a limited expansion of the right to sue for enrollees in group health plans, according to BNA, citing a Frist spokeswoman.

According to the current draft, patients would be required to exhaust an independent review process before suing unless doing so would have no utility. No punitive damages would be allowed under new federal causes of action, while a $500,000 cap would be placed on noneconomic damages.  There would be no limit on economic damages, Frist spokeswoman Margaret Camp told BNA, according to the report.

The draft calls for the Department of Health and Human Services and the counsel of an independent board to decide if waivers would be granted to states that already have patient protection laws.  Federal standards would apply to those states that fail to gain HHS waivers.

While the senators hope to introduce the bill soon, there is no target date for its introduction.