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Rep. Porter Spearheads Legislation to Help Patients Hold Insurers Accountable

Congresswoman’s bill would make it easier for patients to access justice system when insurers refuse to cover care

Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) introduced legislation to help patients hold insurers accountable for wrongfully denying coverage for health care services. The Justice for Patients Act, co-led by Congressman Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), and Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), would protect patients’ access to the judicial system, including their ability to join class-action lawsuits. 

“When families don’t have access to the justice system, it’s the corporate special interests that win,” said Congresswoman Porter. “Right now, health insurance giants are using mandatory arbitration to escape accountability when they cheat patients and deny them coverage of the care the law requires. I’m proud to partner with Reps. Doggett, Schakowsky, and DeLauro to make it easier for families to seek justice against corporate abuse.”

In recent years, an increasing number of insurance companies have forced mandatory arbitration clauses onto patients to shield themselves from accountability. This means patients cannot take insurers to court for bad faith claims settlement practices, fraud, denying treatment, and more. Porter’s Justice For Patients Act would protect patients who want to challenge insurers trying to cheat them.

“This important legislation protects patients from being forced to sign away their rights in the fine print of a contract when they should have the right to seek judicial relief if an insurer illegally denies coverage, refuses to provide required notice and appeal rights, fails to provide required premium rebates, or otherwise acts in bad faith,” said Congressman Doggett, Chair of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.

“During this public health crisis, it is critical that Americans’ rights are protected,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “Every day, as Americans turn to pharmacies, doctors’ offices, and telehealth visits, they rely on their health insurance plans for access to critical health care services. Instead of being transparent with consumers, more and more insurance companies are including these harmful mandatory arbitration clauses to avoid accountability. That must stop! I am proud to co-lead on this legislation, which will ensure that every day consumers needing access to health care services can hold their insurance companies accountable and have their day in court.”

“People should not have to sign away their right to justice in order to access the care they need,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “We have a responsibility to end this coercive, pernicious practice and put power in the hands of patients. I am proud to introduce the Justice for Patients Act with Reps. Porter, Doggett, and Schakowsky, because no one should have to accept second-rate justice.”

Porter’s legislation has been endorsed by American Association for Justice, Public Citizen, and Social Security Works.

Throughout her time in Congress, Congresswoman Porter has fought to bring accountability and change to our broken health care system, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In January, she released a comprehensive report diving into Big Pharma’s anticompetitive behavior and introduced the Medicare Economic Security Solutions Act to protect older Americans from surprise medical bills. In February, she reintroduced legislation that would shield patients with medical debt from long-term financial devastation. She has also fought against private-equity firms trying to cut provider pay, exposed fraudulent medical supply companies, and demanded answers about taxpayer dollars spent on new drugs. Last year, she secured a commitment from the former CDC Director that the Trump Administration would make coronavirus testing free for all Americans.