Congress tried and failed in the 11th hour to pass legislation that would prevent managed-care

Congress tried and failed in the 11th hour to pass legislation that would prevent managed-care companies or health-maintenance organizations from imposing `gag` orders on their providers. Currently, many managed-care plans require health providers to sign a statement agreeing not to discuss all medical options with patients unless first cleared with the insurer. But the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Greg Gaske, R-Iowa, failed to clear the House before the 10th Congress adjourned for the year. A

Congress tried and failed in the 11th hour to pass legislation that would prevent managed-care companies or health-maintenance organizations from imposing `gag` orders on their providers. Currently, many managed-care plans require health providers to sign a statement agreeing not to discuss all medical options with patients unless first cleared with the insurer. But the legislation, sponsored by Rep. Greg Gaske, R-Iowa, failed to clear the House before the 10th Congress adjourned for the year. At least 17 states have taken steps to limit or prohibit managed-care gag rules. President Clinton endorsed the Patient Right to Know Act, a bipartisan House bill that would limit the ability of health plans to restrict doctor-patient communications. The American Dental Association supported the legislation, arguing that gag clauses conflict with the ethical and legal responsibilities of health-care providers to care for their patients. Rep. Gaske is a physician who was misidentified as a dentist in last month`s Capitol Gram.

Judi Hasson

Washington Correspondent

More in Macro/Op-Ed