Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Rights side is the right side.

As I suggested a few days ago, the effort to protect the rights of injured persons to be seek redress in the courts and be compensated for their injuries should be a central focus of the health care reform debate, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court decision that throws all suits involving HMOs into federal jurisdiction. Properly framed, it's a winning issue for Democrats (and probably the best argument the Edwards for Veep camp has on its side).

Speaking to an SEIU convention, Kerry took the opportunity to put the issue front and center.
“It is time we passed a Patients’ Bill of Rights,” Kerry said. “The Supreme Court’s decision was not a good day for more than 140 million Americans who count on HMOs for their medical care. Three years ago, we passed a bipartisan, enforceable Patients’ Bill of Rights. It is time for us to pass it again, for the House to pass it and for the President to sign it. We can do this together.”
Of course, Bush would have you believe that he's in favor of protecting patient's rights, too. After all, in 2000 he made much of a Texas law that was passed while he was governor (although it did pass without his signature) designed to do exactly that. Of course, when the issue came before the Supremes, the Bush administration argued in favor of repealing that very law.

Now the DCCC has picked up the torch, declaring that
"The Republicans' double-talk on patients' rights has reached a new low. A right that cannot be enforced is not a right at all, it is just a request. We need a strong bill that protects all Americans and all plans, so that doctors, not insurance companies, can make medical decisions. The more than 190 million Americans who use managed care or other insurance plans are still waiting for the protections they were promised."
and offering up a brand new online Petition for the Patients' Bill of Rights which urges

· Guaranteed access to needed health care specialists;
· Continuity of care protections so that patients will not have an abrupt transition in care if their providers are dropped from their health plan;
· Access to a fair, unbiased and timely internal and independent external appeals process to address health plan grievances;
· Assurance that doctors and patients can openly discuss treatment options; and
· An enforcement mechanism that ensures legal recourse for patients who have been harmed as a result of a health plan’s actions.
Once again, Democrats are on the right side of an issue, and happily, the right side is the winning side.

Sign the petition!

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