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Thursday, October 7, 1999


Former Nurse Votes to Put Patients' Health Care Ahead of Bottom-Line Profits

Washington, DC -- Congresswoman Lois Capps today praised the passage of the Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act, which passed the House by a vote of 275 to 151.

"As a nurse, I know firsthand the importance of accessible, quality, patient-centered health care," said Capps. "Today's vote is a true victory for American families."

Capps, one of three nurses in Congress, is an original cosponsor of this legislation that will rein in HMOs and guarantee that patients and doctors have control of critical health care decisions. The Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act cosponsored by Reps. Charlie Norwood (R-GA) and John Dingell (D-MI) includes the following essential managed care reform provisions:

-Access to Speciality Care: Improves access to specialty care by ensuring that patients can see specialists without continual approvals by their primary care physician, and allowing women direct access to ob-gyn services.

-Emergency Care: Ensures that health plans cover the costs of emergency room care.

-Continuity of Care: Ensures continuity of care, if a patient's provider is unexpectedly dropped or employer changes health plans.

-Appeals Process: Appeals of HMO decisions could be made to an independent panel of medical experts when a health plan denies care.

-HMO Liability: Holds managed care plans accountable when their decisions to withhold or limit care results in injury or death.

"Today, Congress listened to the voices of Americans all across the country. This bipartisan bill means protections for patients," said Capps. "If a patient has been denied a screening test or treatment which results in serious healthcare problems, the HMO will now be held accountable."

The Norwood-Dingell legislation is supported by approximately 300 organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Dental Association, American College of Surgeons and the American Public Health Association.

The Bipartisan Managed Care Improvement Act will now be considered by a joint House-Senate conference committee.