PBOR Negotiations Continue

August 1, 2001 (PLANSPONSOR.com) ? The gaps between the two sides of the patients' bill of rights seem to be drawing closer, but will it be close enough for a vote before the August recess?

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer was optimistic in his daily briefing, noting “I think it is fair to say that the nation is on the threshold of having a patients’ bill of rights that can be signed into law.”

Republican Representative Charlie Norwood of Georgia continued to meet with the Administration on a possible compromise.

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Bush has threatened to veto the original bill sponsored by Representatives Norwood, Ganske (R-Iowa) and John Dingell (D-Michigan) and is instead throwing his support behind an alternative proposed by Representative Ernest Fletcher (R-Kentucky).

Based on those optimistic signs, Republican leaders have tentatively scheduled a vote for Thursday on the bill, but they have not ruled out delaying action until September.

Compromising Positions

Sponsors of the Ganske/Norwood/Dingell patients’ rights bill now say they would support a White House-backed plan to protect employers that administer their own health plans from lawsuits in state court, requiring these challenges to be tried in federal court.

On the other hand, they remain opposed to a White House proposal that would allow patients to file lawsuits against HMOs and insurers in state court but require these cases to be governed by federal standards. Opponents say that would limit the remedies available ? and preempt laws in states that have already enacted patient protection bills.

Also still unresolved is the limit, if any, on damages awarded.

– Nevin Adams                            editors@plansponsor.com

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