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Historic Expansion of Health Insurance Coverage Cedes Control to Medical/Insurance Industries
Date:12/24/2009

b>The Senate bill's new "multi-state" plans and interstate "compacts" allow insurance companies to override more protective state patient laws. "Exchange" policies will also weaken more protective state laws by forcing state budgets to fund the cost of additional protections. Minimum federal standards should set a floor, not a ceiling, on state health care protections. States have traditionally been the laboratories of innovation in health care and have a greater ability to respond quickly to local needs.

* The bill provides no legal accountability for insurers when employers pay for health coverage. Patients who have health coverage paid for in part or full by employers will not be able to hold insurers legally accountable for denying medically necessary treatments. 132 million Americans with private employer-paid health coverage cannot recover damages against an insurer even if the company's failure to approve treatment kills a loved one. The legislation does not fix this loophole denying patients justice that was created by a 1987 Supreme Court decision in the case of Pilot Life v. Dedeaux even as it requires individuals and employers to share in the cost of health coverage or face tax penalties. If government requires the purchase of health insurance policies it should guarantee access to justice when insurers wrongfully deny treatment to patients.

"If Congress is going to cede such a huge increase in control over our health to the insurance industry, it is incumbent upon Congress to fix the major consumer protection problems with the bill," said Jerry Flanagan of Consumer Watchdog. "The Senate bill will provide health insurance for roughly 30 million Americans and allow those with coverage more freedom to switch policies if they choose. However, by requiring most Americans to buy health insurance policies or face stiff tax penalties without adequate constraints on what insurers
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