The Patient's Bill of Rights
Representative Charlie Norwood, a conservative Republican from Georgia, teamed up with Representative John Dingell, liberal Democrat from Michigan, during the Clinton administration to co-sponsor the Patient's Bill of Rights (PBOR) in the House of Representatives. The PBOR sought to amend ERISA to allow for recovery of consequential damages against HMOs when their decision to deny coverage for medical treatment turned out to be erroneous and directly resulted in harm to the patient/insured. They never were able to get the bill through Congress. But Norwood and Dingell kept at it year after year. Last Tuesday the Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a story about Norwood introducing it again this year, then going home to Atlanta to be with his family as he dealt with the last stages of terminal cancer. The story indicates that for the first time since he, Dingell and Rep. Greg Ganske introduced the PBOR in 1998, the likelihood of passage through the Democratically controlled Congress looks promising. It may have to get enough votes to override a presidential veto but even that looks possible. Later that same day the AJC website ran a story reporting the death of Charlie Norwood.