Ky. Doctor Running For Senator Says Patients Have Right To Sue HMOs On State Level

By Maureen Kyle

(LOUISVILLE, June 24th, 2004, 5 p.m.) -- Many patients and doctors complain health decisions are made by insurance companies. The Supreme Court recently restricted legal options when it comes to fighting HMOs, ruling patients can't sue on the state level. One Kentucky candidate for the U.S. Senate wants to change that. WAVE 3's Maureen Kyle reports.

The Supreme Court decision means that individual patients lose their rights to sue HMOs on the state level, so such cases can only be heard on the federal level.

Dr. Daniel Mongiardo, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat against Senator Jim Bunning, spoke out about the Supreme Court's decision Thursday morning. He says he doesn't support this decision and it hurts patients rights.

If HMOs are going to make medical decisions, they need to be accountable for their decisions," Mongiardo says. Doctors are accountable for decisions they make, and if they're going to step into the patient-doctor relationship, they need to be held accountable."

Mongiardo strongly supports the Patients Bill of Rights, which President Bush is also endorsing. Under that bill, patients can sue HMOs and doctors.

Mongiardo criticized Senator Bunning for supporting the Supreme Court decision earlier this week. We have a call into Senator Bunning's office. We hope to have his comments later in the day.

Online Reporter: Maureen Kyle

Online Producer: Michael Dever