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February 10, 2000
Washington, DC —  The President and the leadership of both parties have a rare opportunity to exert real national leadership in taking the first step towards approval of comprehensive managed care reform, according to U.S. Representative Charlie Norwood (R-GA), co-author of the Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act, H.R. 2723.    The Consensus Bill is now attached to a separate access bill, H.R. 2990. 

Norwood says the nation’s top House and Senate leaders should hold a pre-conference committee summit to determine a final managed care reform bill that would be acceptable to all.  “Rather than wait for the House-Senate Conference Committee to wade forward into the realm of the unknown,  President Clinton and the Leaders of both parties in the House and Senate should provide at least a basic framework of the necessary legislative ingredients for both houses to approve the bill, and for the President to sign the measure into law.  An agreement along these lines would provide tremendous guidance for every Member serving on the Conference.” 

Norwood is not one of those Members.  In spite of having written the bill that passed by an overwhelming 275-151 margin in October, he was not included among House Conferees.   “That exclusion now gives me the opportunity to speak rather brazenly on this issue,” Norwood says,  “a liberty that a Conference Member would not enjoy.” 

The former dentist suggests the leaders leave their aides and advisors outside the room, and determine a final bill agreeable to all before emerging.  “It ought to take a single day, if undertaken with an open mind by all involved,” Norwood says.   “They are already in apparent agreement on 90% of the patient standards measures in the bill.  They still need to work out scope of coverage, liability, and the access provisions.  Speaker Hastert, Senator Lott, and President Clinton have already even agreed to liability in general.  With all parties being this close to a bill that can become law, there is no excuse for letting even a chance of partisan bickering in the conference to derail this bill for another year.” 


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