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July 16, 1998

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We cannot spare another moment in securing passage of a strong, enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights. To do that, we must work together. To protect our families, to save them from the needless suffering that pains us all, we need a bipartisan approach -- not partisan bills that are about political positioning.

President Bill Clinton
July 16, 1998

Today, President Clinton joins Democratic and Republican members of Congress on Capitol Hill to support passage of a good and bipartisan Patients' Bill or Rights. The President will also highlight the bipartisan approach to this issue taken by Reps. Greg Ganske (R-IA) and John Dingell (D-MI).

President Clinton Calls On Congress To Pass An Enforceable Patients' Bill Of Rights. President Clinton is working to protect Americans and guarantee Americans fundamental protections in health care decisions. For nine months the President has been urging Congress to pass a Patients' Bill of Rights. In February 1998, the President signed an Executive Memorandum directing the federal health plans overseeing 85 million Americans to implement the Patients' Bill of Rights. The President has said that Patients' Bill of Rights legislation must meet the following objectives:

  • Guaranteed Access To Needed Health Care Specialists;
  • Access To Emergency Room Services When And Where The Need Arises;
  • Continuity Of Care Protections To Assure Patient Care will not change abruptly if their provider is dropped;
  • Access To A Timely Internal And Independent External Appeals Process for consumers to resolve their differences with their health plans;
  • A Limit On Financial Incentives To Doctors;
  • Assuring That Doctors And Patients Can Openly Discuss Treatment Options;
  • Assuring that Women Have Direct Access To An OB-GYN;
  • An Enforcement Mechanism That Ensures Recourse For Patients who have been maimed or die as a result of health plan actions.

The President's Plan Has Broad Support. President Clinton's plan has been endorsed by many groups, including the American Medical Association, National Breast Cancer Coalition, AIDS Action, and others who believe, as the President does, that medical decisions should be made by patients in consultation with their doctors and nurses.

Republican Proposals Do Not Provide Adequate Patient Protections. Republicans are supporting legislative policies that fall short of providing essential protections, for example, they:

  • Do Not Guarantee Access To Specialists.
  • Do Not Limit Or Require Disclosure Of Financial Incentives For Doctors. Patients should not be put at risk through unknown financial incentives given to doctors to limit patient care.
  • Do Not Compensate Patients Who Are Maimed Or Die As A Result Of A Wrongful Health Plan Action.
  • Do Not Provide 100 Million Americans The Patient Protections They Need. Republican proposals only apply to those in self-insured plans. Some 100 million Americans would only receive the protections they need if every state passed every protection into law.
    • States Patients' Rights Laws Do Not Provide The Protections Patients Need. A report released today by Families USA shows that no state has passed all of the protections in the Patients' Bill of Rights, and most states have only passed a few of these protections.
    • Millions of Americans Working In Small Businesses Would Not Be Covered. Most Americans who work in small businesses would not be protected by the Republican proposal, which explicitly excludes them.

The President's Leadership Is Helping Ensure Basic Health Care Protections For Americans. Americans need to be ensured that important protections, like access to a health care specialist or the emergency room is guaranteed. President Clinton has already extended these rights and others to 85 million Americans in federal health plans, now it is time for Congress to act so all Americans can be guaranteed these vital protections.

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