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Statement by the President: Labor Department Issues Final Regulations Concerning Private Health Plans (11/20/000)

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                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
November 20, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

     Today, I am pleased to announce that the Labor Department is issuing
final regulations requiring private health plans covering 130 million
Americans to provide a fast and fair internal appeals process for patients
when coverage has been denied or delayed.  Under this new rule, for the
first time, health plans would be required to make coverage decisions
quickly -- within 72 hours for urgent requests -- and to provide consumers
with meaningful information on their rights and benefits.  Currently, many
health plans do not have the medical expertise to make such decisions, and
approval of necessary services can take as long as 300 days.

     Under the strong leadership of Secretary Herman, we are taking an
important step towards providing Americans the health care protections they
need.  It is the final executive action I can take to provide critical
protections to patients in private health plans.  It builds on my
Administration?s previous action to provide critical patient protections to
the 85 million Americans in Federal health plans.  But the only way to give
every American in every health plan the right to see a specialist, to go to
the nearest emergency room -- not the cheapest -- and to hold health care
plans accountable when they cause harm, is to pass a real, enforceable
Patients? Bill of Rights.  Whether it is this year or next year, Congress
should come together to pass this long overdue legislation.


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