House PBOR Vote Could Wait Until September

July 26, 2001 ( ? House Republican leaders said they might put off a vote on a patients? bill of rights ? possibly until September ? as they try to garner support for the version favored by President Bush.

Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) and other leaders said a vote on the bill was still possible by next week, but they told members of the Republican caucus in a closed-door meeting that it may have to wait until after the month-long August recess, according to Reuters. Congress is scheduled to recess for that break at the end of next week.

Democrats and some Republicans condemned the threatened delay as a “pocket veto” ? and warned that those responsible would pay a political price for blocking the legislation.

Competing Bills

The President has thrown his support behind legislation crafted by Rep. Ernest Fletcher (R-Kentucky), H.R. 2513, that would cap noneconomic damages in federal court at $500,000 and provide a limited right to sue in state court if an HMO or insurer fails to abide by decisions of a medical review board.

Favored by many is the version (H.R. 2563) put forth by Representatives Greg Ganske (R-Iowa), Charles Norwood (R-Georgia) and John Dingell (D-Michigan). The Ganske/Norwood/Dingell version has much in common with the version passed in the Senate June 29, including much higher liability limits and a greater ? and quicker — access to state courts.

Supporters of the Norwood-Dingell bill claim to have the 218 votes needed for passage, including at least 11 Republicans.