Patients Bill of Rights Might Have First Battle in N.C.
Posted August 31, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH — North Carolina may be the scene of the first battle in fight for a "patients' bill of rights" that is brewing in Congress. President Clinton has already announced a plan giving 120 million people enrolled in health care maintenance organizations the right to a quick appeal of grievances.
The American Association of Health Plans contends the proposed health care liability laws will have a major negative economic and health impact if enacted. Representing managed care plans across the country, the organization says trial lawyers stand to make big money with rate increases.
"If that happens, costs go up. These people like the small business people who are talking here aren't going to be able to provide any health care, because costs are going to be too expensive," explained Mark Merritt of the American Association of Health Plans.
The organization will soon begin running TV ads in North Carolina against proposed HMO reform.
More than one hundred million Americans are enrolled in managed care plans. North Carolina insurance laws already provide protection to those who have coverage problems.
"We have made an effort in this state. The Department of Insurance has made an effort to keep the consumer at the forefront of the issue rather than just the plans or just someone else's agenda," said DeAnne Nelson of theDepartment of Insurance.
Health care is a hot button issue, particularly during an election year, so we'll likely hear much more about patients' rights.