Bush Takes Sides On Patient Rights: Limited Liability

President Bush has weighed in on liability, supporting a patients-rights proposal crafted in the Senate by Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, and Louisiana Democrat John Breaux. People would gain the right to sue HMOs in federal court for wrongful denial of coverage only after a case had been considered by an independent review panel. Pain-and-suffering awards would be capped.

The liability provisions are more moderate than those offered in a competing Senate bill by Arizona Republican John McCain and North Carolina Democrat John Edwards. Some observers expect stalemate again — partly because both McCain and Edwards are thought to be considering a run against Bush in 2004, and neither would like to hand him a victory.