Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Patient's Bill of Rights

Although media attention has not paid to this story, a significant development occurred today that will have an enormous impact on the lives of the American people for many years to come.

How would you feel if health insurance companies were never again allowed to impose pre-existing condition exclusions on children? What if they were prohibited from taking away coverage from people who made unintentional mistakes on their applications? Would you support measures that banned insurers from setting lifetime limits on insurance coverage, restricted their ability to impose annual limits on coverage, and demanding that "prior approval" be granted before allowing patients to seek emergency care at hospitals outside of their plan network?

If you support these and other progressive measures, then you will be pleased to know that President Obama has just announced a series of new regulations in the Affordable Care Act. These measures, better known as the Patient's Bill of Rights, bring to fruition another important segment of the dream given its most eloquent articulation by Senator Edward Kennedy almost thirty years ago:

We must not surrender to the relentless medical inflation that can bankrupt almost anyone and that may soon break the budgets of government at every level. Let us insist on real controls over what doctors and hospitals can charge, and let us resolve that the state of a family's health shall never depend on the size of a family's wealth.

It is unfortunate that Obama's approval ratings are continuing to sag. In the past month he has engaged in a brave (and disturbingly unpopular) campaign to reverse Arizona's racist anti-immigration law, forced BP to pay $20 billion to Gulf Coast residents whose livelihoods have been impacted by the oil spill (thus doing justice to thousands of innocent Americans and saving billions of taxpayer dollars), boldly fired a prominent military leader whose insubordination posed a threat to the institution of civilian control over the armed forces, and now has pushed through the long-overdue Patient's Bill of Rights.

Frankly, I couldn't be more pleased with Obama's recent performance.

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