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Urging Congress to Act Now to Pass A Strong, Enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights

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White House at Work

July 6, 2000

We need a real patients' bill of rights with real accountability and real rights, not one that just provides cover for the special interests. We don't need more cover for them, we need more health care coverage for the American people.

President Bill Clinton
July 6, 2000

Today, in Columbus, Missouri, President Clinton, joined by Governor Mel Carnahan, highlighted a new legal analysis which shows that the Senate Republican "Patients' Bill of Rights" passed last week would actually undermine state-based accountability provisions already available under current law. The analysis concludes that enactment of the Senate Republican bill would be far worse than if Congress enacted no measure at all. The President pointed out that this flawed legislation would fail to provide full protections to more than 135 million Americans; allow health plans to assess financial penalties on patients accessing emergency care; fail to guarantee real access to specialists; and fail to establish a strong enforcement mechanism that would hold plans accountable when they make harmful decisions. Reiterating his refusal to enact legislation that does not provide strong patient protections for all Americans in all health plans, the President urged Congress to pass legislation with real patient protections, and praise Governor Carnahan for his leadership in passing a strong state version of the Patients' Bill of Rights.

NEW LEGAL ANALYSIS HIGHLIGHTS FLAWS IN REPUBLICAN BILL. The new independent analysis, produced by respected legal scholars at George Washington and Rutgers Universities at the request of Congressman Dingell, shows that the Senate Republican legislation contains serious flaws that would fail to provide critical patient protections and would actually undermine existing accountability provisions. The legislation, which passed last week without attracting a single Democratic vote, would:

  • Leave more than 135 million Americans without the guarantee of full protections;
  • Allow health plans to subject patients accessing emergency care to high financial penalties;
  • Fail to guarantee true access to necessary health care specialists;
  • Fail to provide access to important clinical trials; and
  • Establish an inadequate enforcement mechanism that prevents patients from holding health plans accountable when they make harmful decisions.

DEBUNKING SCARE TACTICS OF PATIENT PROTECTION OPPONENTS. The President praised Governor Carnahan for leading the way in enacting strong patient protections in his state, and highlighted Missouri's legislation as an example of how meaningful patient protections can be enacted into law without any negative impact on premiums or on the number of uninsured.

URGING CONGRESS TO PASS A REAL PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS. The President underscored that the Senate is only one vote away from passing a strong, enforceable, Patients' Bill of Rights, similar to the Norwood-Dingell Patients' Bill of Rights. That legislation, endorsed by over 200 health care provider and consumer advocacy groups, would:

  • Offer protections for all Americans in all health plans;
  • Allow patients access to emergency care without financial penalties;
  • Ensure access to necessary and available health care specialists;
  • Provide a fair and timely internal and independent external appeals process to address health plan grievances; and
  • Contain meaningful enforcement mechanisms that guarantee recourse for patients who have been harmed as a result of a health plan's actions.

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July 2000

July 31, 2000: Highlighting the Need for Drug Coverage for Medicare Beneficiaries with Disabilities

July 27, 2000: Challenging Congress to Act on America's Priorities

July 26, 2000: Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

July 13, 2000: Announcing Major New Investments in Diabetes Research, Treatment, and Prevention

July 10, 2000: Warning Governors That Congressional Tax Plans Would Jeopardize Critical Investments In Health Care

July 7, 2000: Urging Congress to Act Now to Pass A Strong, Enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights

July 5, 2000: Eliminate Abusive Child Labor Around The World