Will A "Patients' Bill of Rights" and New Medicare Reform
Proposal Guarantee the Right to Contract?
March 11, 1999
WASHINGTON, D.C. - While some members of Congress are proclaiming
they want to give Americans a "patients' bill of rights,"
others are trying to take away our limited right to privately
contract for medical services.
A bill was recently introduced (H.R. 958) that calls for
a prohibition on Medicare private contracts. This prohibition
would strip seniors of their basic right to pay privately
for the doctors of their choice. It would also force seniors
to share their medical claims' records with government bureaucrats.
"Congress and the Medicare Commission need to examine the
Medicare private contracting issue," says Sue Blevins, president
of the Institute for Health Freedom. "Sixty-four percent of
Americans believe seniors should be allowed to sign private
contracts with their doctors. If any patients' rights are
going to be guaranteed this year, Congress should make sure
Americans are free to privately contract for the medical care
of their choice."
The Medicare Commission is currently examining "premium
supports" as a way to give seniors more choices. Under the
premiums support system, seniors would be given a choice of
health plans--similar to how the Federal Employee Health Benefits
Program (FEHBP) currently works.
However, there is a great distinction between the proposed
Medicare premium support plan and FEHBP. Under FEHBP, government
employees and members of Congress are free to go outside of
their insurance plans and pay privately for their medical
care. Yet, seniors in Medicare don't have this freedom. "That's
why Congress and the Medicare Commission should carefully
examine the private contracting issue," says Blevins.