While the AAHP is bitterly opposed to lifting the shield that protects HMOs from most lawsuits, AAHP President and CEO Karen Ignani says the ad's intent is not to thwart pending legislation.
"We're not trying to derail the bill of rights. What we're trying to do is send a strong message that the way to deal with patient protection ... is not through increased courts and trial lawyers, but through external review," Ignani tells WebMD. She says she's "shocked" and "disappointed" by the response to the ad.
Rick Wade, senior vice president of the AHA, tells WebMD that he isn't appeased. "For the health plans ... to take this issue and throw it in the path of the legislation that may be coming out, that was ... an insult to the people that actually deliver care," he says.
But Ignani counters, saying, "This [broadening the power to sue the health plan] isn't the right way to solve health care problems. That's what the message is."
Meanwhile, Charlie Norwood, R-Ga., the co-author of the tough patient protection bill that passed the House last year, praised the AAHP for endorsing a national reporting system for medical error, saying it could be a "great opportunity" for moving forward with negotiations over his plan.
Many have expressed that they feel it's necessary to address the issues of medical error and patient protection. In his Wednesday news conference, President Clinton once again urged swift passage of the bill of rights. And, through a spokeswoman, Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., one of the conferees on the bill and a transplant surgeon, says he too is concerned about medical error. However, he doesn't want that to detract from passing a bill of rights.
Click here to see a transcript of the AAHP commercial and more information.