Subtly Siding With Insurers Over Patients

I joined Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Congressmen Rob Andrews (D-NJ) and Charlie Rangel (D-NY) for a press conference yesterday in opposing a little-known proposed section of the Pension Reform Act that would allow insurance companies to collect money before victims are able to cover the costs of hospitals and other bills during their recovery.

This anti-patient provision penalizes an injured individual for someone else's negligence. Had Section 307 of H.R. 2830 been in place after my accident in the 1980s, my life would be very different. My parents could have been unable to cover my medical expenses and changing needs if the insurance companies were allowed to sue for payment before my situation was settled. This provision will trump strong laws in states like Rhode Island and allow insurance companies to act against victims. Removing this provision means protecting patient rights.

In addition to what this means for patient rights, Section 307 was never discussed or debated before it was slipped into this critical piece of legislation at the eleventh hour. This health insurance provision is not germane to the pension legislation it was placed in. The Pension Reform Act is currently in conference with the Senate, and I am hopeful that Section 307 will be removed during this process.

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