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'New PARCA' Doesn't Placate Critics; Passage Prospects Going Down Tube

MANAGED CARE June 1998. © MediMedia USA
Washington Initiatives

'New PARCA' Doesn't Placate Critics; Passage Prospects Going Down Tube

MANAGED CARE June 1998. ©1998 Stezzi Communications
Washington Initiatives

Is the Patient Access to Responsible Care Act, affectionately known as PARCA, dead? Let's say its heart still may be beating, but faintly. Its chief proponent in the House, Georgia Republican Charles Norwood, did little to satisfy the naysayers with his revisions to the bill.

Norwood recently redrafted PARCA to:

  • Remove language that could be interpreted to guarantee issue and community rating
  • Clarify that employers cannot be held liable for medical decisions, unless they were the decision makers
  • Make clear that the bill does not contain any-willing-provider provisions.

Sample reaction: The Health Benefits Coalition, an ad hoc group of 31 organizations, says, "The only way employers can escape liability under this bill is to give up any responsibility for benefit decisions affecting their employees." And the Health Insurance Association of America demurred, "PARCA still contains numerous onerous provisions that benefit lawyers, bureaucrats and providers at the expense of consumers."

But the real bad news for PARCA is that about a half-dozen House Republicans said they would support the Democratic alternative — the Patient Bill of Rights — rather than support broad-based health reform legislation. Stick to patient protection legislation, the rebels told Norwood.

The Democratic bill now has more than 140 cosponsors. But don't expect Norwood to go gently into the night. A spokesman says he has commitments from enough representatives to bring the new PARCA to a vote.