HMO no-no

I take issue with Dan Moss’ October 19 Forum piece, Record shows Bush backs patients. Mr. Moss claims erroneously that Gov. George W. Bush signed numerous patient protection bills including one to allow patients to appeal denials of care through an independent review process and take HMOs to court.

In fact, Bush fought vigorously against lawsuits aimed toward negligent HMOs and refused to sign the bill when it crossed his desk. Bush stated it would create a flood of new lawsuits and raise the number of uninsured, a concern he now admits hasn’t transpired. The person who deserves the credit for organizing bipartisan support for the bill is Texas State Republican Senator David Sibley, not Bush, as he would have Americans believe.

Governor Bush’s use of scare tactics to argue against patients’ rights is a myth first launched by the insurance industry and echoed by Senate Republicans. In spite of the majority of Senators supporting a bipartisan patients’ bill of rights, the Senate Republican leadership has refused to allow a vote on the measure.

The bill, first authored by Rep. Charles Norwood, passed by an overwhelming majority in the House with both Republicans and Democrats voting in favor of granting patients specific rights in dealing with HMOs. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who supports the Norwood bill, recently stated, the Republicans are in the grip of the HMOs and insurance companies and their huge six- and seven-figure donations.

Eighty percent of Americans support a strong patients’ bill of rights. On this issue, many Republicans at the state and federal level have defied their leadership and the insurance industry and fought on the side of patients and the American people. George W. Bush is not one of them.

-Andrew Fenton
GW Medical School student

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