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November 3, 2003

CONTACT: Jerry Flanagan, (415) 633-1320 or Jamie Court, (310) 392-0522 ext. 327

Consumer Group Says Bush Should Weigh In With Supreme Court On Fate Of State HMO Liability Laws

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) called upon President Bush to weigh in�on behalf of patients with the U.S. Supreme Court now that the Court has to decide whether Texas's HMO liability law is illegal. �FTCR noted Bush had boasted about his HMO reform record in the 2000 election and that the two cases the court has decided to hear today would decide the fate of HMO liability laws in Texas and 12 other states that passed them.

Recent court decisions show the Supreme Court is likely to support the right of states to pass laws to hold HMOs accountable for denials of medical care, particularly if President Bush weighs in, according to FTCR. At issue in all of these cases are the HMO industry's contention that state HMO accountability laws are pre-empted under the federal Employee Retirement Income Safety Act of 1974 (ERISA).

"President Bush took office bragging he had enacted the toughest HMO accountability law in the nation as Governor of Texas, now he has a duty to defend the law as president," said Jamie Court, FTCR's president and co-author of Making A Killing: HMOs and The Threat To Your Health. "This decision is not just about Texas but 13 other states that have passed HMO legal accountability laws."

Court called on the Supreme Court to send a message to the HMO industry that it cannot hide behind federal law, but must face accountability in all 50 states. California, like Texas has a HMO liability law, which has resulted in few lawsuits. State statistics show, however, that HMOs have been more forthcoming in providing care in order to avoid legal liability.

FTCR, which sponsored the California HMO liability law, similar to the Texas law, said the Supreme Court's decision would be the final word on state's rights on the matter.

FTCR is a non-profit and non-partisan consumer advocacy organization. �Visit us on the web at� or

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