July 6, 2001
The Patients Bill of Rights debate in Washington fails to address the day-to-day fears and concerns of patients. The bill would force them to go through an internal appeal, an external appeal, find and pay for an attorney and then spend more time waiting to be heard in our overcrowded court system.
They could literally die in the process.
Having the right to sue an HMO is an attempt to seek justice after the HMO has inflicted the harm. We have to prevent the harm.
Even if the Democrats win this battle, it would be the equivalent of applying a Band-Aid to treat a cancer, and will still perpetuate a system that allows patient care to be at the mercy of an industry that has a built-in incentive to deny care. Every dollar of care an HMO can deny to a patient increases the HMO’s bottom line. It’s time we faced up to this obvious anti-patient structural defect.
Why not use the mechanism that has worked successfully for the patient for 35 years, while performing with a mere 2-percent cost ratio for administration? Extend Medicare to the non-seniors.
Editor’s Note: The writer serves on the executive board of the Long Island Coalition for a National Health Plan