West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise on Saturday offered his state as firsthand proof that a patients' bill of rights protects people without driving up the cost of health care.
In a victory for Democrats, the Senate approved a patients' rights bill, 59-36, on Friday. It would give Americans sweeping health care rights and the power to sue HMOs and insurers if treatment is denied.
The measure now goes to the GOP-controlled House.
Wise said his state had strengthened an existing law on rights of HMO members.
"The experience of states with similar laws--including Texas and Oklahoma--proves you can hold HMOs accountable without premiums skyrocketing, court dockets being filled up or people losing their health coverage," Wise said in a response to President Bush's radio address. "It proves these are nothing more than scare tactics."