New Jerseyans would gain the same right to sue their health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and other health insurers enjoyed by patients in Texas and California under new legislation co-sponsored by Assembly Minority Leader Doria, Assemblyman Impreveduto and Assemblywoman Quigley (Hudson County). The bill would permit New Jersey patients to sue their health insurer if they are harmed by the denial of necessary medical care.
The new accountability legislation is supported by New Jersey Public Interest Research Group’s Patients’ Bill of Rights Coalition that includes New Jersey Public Health Association, New Jersey Council of Senior Citizens, the New Jersey State Nurses Association and many others.
The new law would make HMOs and health insurers far more responsive to patients needs, and extremely unlikely to boost their profit margins by denying necessary care. While allowing the most aggrieved patients to bypass the existing appeals process, the bill encourages judges to seek mediation when possible and protects against frivolous lawsuits.
Although the new legislation would only effect health insurers that are harming patients as a result of dubious business practices, the state association of health insurers has vehemently opposed the legislation. Further, recent data demonstrates strong patient and physical testimony that HMOs routinely engage in wrongful interference with the treating physicians’ ability to provide necessary medical care.
Assemblyman Doria, Assemblyman Impreveduto and Assemblywoman Quigley should all be commended for taking a stand for patient rights by co-sponsoring legislation that will help to level the playing field between consumers and health insurers.
Jerry Flanagan, Legislative Coordinator
NJPIRG Citizen Lobby
Founded in 1972, NJPIRG (New Jersey Public Interest Research Group) Citizen Lobby is the state’s leading public interest advocacy organization.