Karen Rudy may lose her ability to speak because her HMO doesn't find it cost-effective to cover the reconstructive surgery she needs to fix her cleft lip and palate. Young Matt Cerniglia can't get the bone marrow transplant his doctor recommends - a transplant he needs to live - because his HMO won't pay for it. It seems obvious that we need to fix the managed-care system, but who's serious about taking the necessary action?

The House of Representatives had a choice between two options, the bipartisan Patients' Bill of Rights (HR3605) or Newt Gingrich's Patient Protection Bill (HR4250). Both have impressive names, but only one is really about guaranteeing patients' rights. Supporters of the Patients' Bill of Rights include consumer groups, senior citizens, children's advocates, nurses, employees and doctors tired of having their decisions second-guessed by accountants. Gingrich's bill is backed by the managed-care industry.The Patients' Bill of Rights is the strongest protection for my family. It was the only bill that combines reasonable expectations of quality care with the ability of patients to hold insurance bureaucrats accountable when they deny that care.

The Gingrich bill, on the other hand, contains watered-down protections without any provisions for effective enforcement.

With the choice of these two options - one protecting patients and the other protecting the managed-care industry - we must ask ourselves why House members, including Utah's Merrill Cook, passed the weaker Gingrich bill?

They believe we can be fooled; I believe they're wrong. The solution passed by the House is simply political cover in an election year. It's up to us to put common sense back into decisionmaking. It's up to us to demand real solutions.

Lily Eskelsen

Candidate, 2nd Congressional District

Salt Lake City