September 14, 2000
"We don't need any more time to debate this. It's time to listen to the doctors, the nurses, the patients, and other consumer and provider experts and provide all Americans in all plans the patient protections they deserve."
President Bill Clinton
September 14, 2000
Today, at the White House, President Clinton called on the Senate Republican leadership to heed the will of the majority in the Senate to bring the bipartisan Norwood-Dingell Patients' Bill of Rights legislation to a vote and pass the bill without further delay. The President expressed his concern over threats by some Senate Republican leaders to use procedural tactics, such as a filibuster, to prevent a vote on the bill. The President joined representatives of Families USA, the American Medical Association, and the American Osteopathic Association in launching the Patients' Rights Tour 2000, a national tour to highlight the costs and consequences to millions of Americans of delaying passage of this critical legislation.
CHALLENGING THE SENATE TO VOTE ON THE REAL PATIENTS' BILL OF RIGHTS. The bipartisan Norwood-Dingell Patients' Bill of Rights is endorsed by over 300 consumer advocacy and health care provider groups, and is the only bipartisan proposal currently being considered that includes:
- Protections for all Americans in all health plans;
- Protections from financial sanctions for patients accessing emergency room care;
- Guarantees that assure access to necessary and accessible health care specialists;
- Guarantees that assure access to a fair and timely internal and independent external appeals process to address health plan grievances; and
- Meaningful enforcement mechanisms that ensure recourse for patients who have been harmed as a result of a health plan's actions.
REPUBLICANS MAY USE PROCEDURAL TACTICS TO PREVENT PASSAGE. President Clinton pointed out that the Senate has a majority of support for a strong, enforceable, Patients' Bill of Rights, like the bipartisan Norwood-Dingell legislation. However, Senate Republicans have indicated their intention to filibuster this legislation and use procedural tactics to thwart the will of the majority. The President urged the Senate to hold a straight up-or-down vote on the Norwood-Dingell legislation without delay.
LAUNCHING THE PATIENTS' RIGHTS 2000 TOUR. According to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, each day without a strong Patients' Bill of Rights results in 49,560 people being denied health care or experiencing a delay in receiving care. Today, Families USA launched its Patients' Rights 2000 tour, a national effort to highlight that unnecessary delay in passing this legislation results in harm to thousands of patients daily and millions of patients each year.
FLAWED SENATE REPUBLICAN BILL REPRESENTS AN EMPTY PROMISE. The patients' rights legislation passed by the Republican Senate 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 a wholly inadequate enforcement mechanism that prevents patients from holding health plans accountable when they make harmful decisions.