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United Press International

BUSH SWITCHES POSITION ON HMOs -- ON THE RECORD

by ELLEN BECK
June 22, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Bush administration argued on the side of the HMOs in Monday's Supreme Court decision on HMOs and ERISA -- a switch because President Bush fully supported the Texas law -- passed in 1997 while he was governor of Texas -- that provided the basis for the Supreme Court case.

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights jumped on it -- writing to Bush: "Ironically, you, members of the Supreme Court, and congressional representatives can use state laws to hold your HMOs accountable, but the victims of HMOs who work for private sector employers have no remedy because of your action with the court and inaction on legislation to fix the unintended pre-emption of state patients' rights laws." The letter referenced groups exempted from ERISA.

"Among your campaign Pioneers -- bundlers of $100,000 or more in contributions -- are seven former or current HMO executives, including UnitedHealth, Group CEO William McGuire and former Health Net Chairman Dr. Malik Hasan. This gives the unmistakable impression that HMO money has bought your advocacy on behalf of HMOs and at the expense of patients," the letter added.
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E-mail the author at: ebeck@upi.com