FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, September 1, 1999

Turn Medical Decisions Back in the Hands of Doctors, Patients

Cong. Lane Evans is calling for action on managed-care reform legislation that would provide essential protections for patients and return medical decisions back in the hands of doctors and their patients.

"This legislation would put health care decisions back in the hands of doctors and their patients and take it back from managed-care companies who are only looking to the bottom line," Evans said.

He said the House Republican leadership is holding up action on the bill. The Senate passed its own legislation in July that greatly limits the number of patients who may take advantage of it and makes it more difficult for consumers to hold HMOs accountable for their actions.

The legislation Evans is supporting would extend coverage to all 161 million Americans with private health insurance and makes it easier to hold insurers accountable.

Key provisions in the bill include:

"Both consumers and doctors are complaining about the delivery of care allowed under managed care plans," Evans said.

"This is the most important health issue for the public. I know how important it is to be able to get the health care one needs. We have to respond to the needs of individuals for patient protection and access to care."

Manage-care companies now provide health insurance for most Americans. The proportion of privately insured Americans enrolled in managed care plans has grown from 13% in 1987 to 75% today, but there is no effective oversight. Over 6 million people in Illinois who belongs to HMOs lack key patient protections.

Evans said managed care is particularly important for women because they make more than 60 percent of all doctor visits and are not able to receive important preventive services because of limitations on care.

"Too often health plans are interfering with medical care instead of ensuring patients can get the care they need," Evans said. "We have to return medical decision-making back to where it belongs: with patients and health care professionals.

- 30 -