[U.S. House of Representatives]CONGRESSMAN JIM TURNER
208 Cannon, Washington, D.C. 20515  .  (202) 225-2401  .  2nd District, Texas
October 7, 1999
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congressman Jim Turner today announced passage of the Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act of 1999, which followed two days of  heated debate on HMO reform in the House of Representatives.  The House passed the legislation, 275 to 151, as its supporters overcame several substitute proposals they considered "poison pills" intended to derail the effort.  Congressman Turner was a co-sponsor of the bipartisan managed care reform legislation.
"Today the House passed a comprehensive and effective Patients' Bill of Rights, one which assures the American people that doctors, not HMO bureaucrats, will make the medical decisions that affect their lives and which finally holds HMOs accountable for wrongfully denying patient care," Congressman Turner said. "As a strong supporter and co-sponsor of the legislation, I am proud that our fight on behalf of patients succeeded.  This legislation will protect the quality of care and will give stability and fairness to those who provide the care, those who receive care and those who pay for care.  In the United States we enjoy the finest health care system in the world, and this bill will protect our health care for the future." 

Under the Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act, patients would have access to specialists and treatment at the closest emergency room.  Women would be able to see OB/GYNs and children would be able to see pediatricians as their primary physician without any referral.  Additionally, patients would no longer be forced to change doctors and hospitals while in the middle of treatment if a patient's provider is unexpectedly dropped or their employer changes health plans.  The legislation also safeguards against the release of medical information without the patient's approval and holds HMOs and big insurance companies accountable if they wrongfully deny care.

"As I cast my vote for the Patients' Bill of Rights today, I cast my vote in favor of patients and their medical rights and protections," Congressman Turner said.  "When Americans buy health insurance and enroll in a managed care plan, they should not lose their relationship with their doctor or have to worry if their insurance plan will pay for the medical bill as they rush their child to an emergency room.   The time is long over due to hold HMOs accountable if they wrongfully deny care, and today, with passage of this bill, we have done exactly that."  

The Bipartisan Consensus Managed Care Improvement Act was modeled after the Texas managed care reform law.  In 1997, Texas became the first state to pass a law holding HMOs accountable for their actions.  Congressman Turner, while a Texas State Senator, authored the 1995 Texas Patient Protection Act, which was passed by the Texas State House and Senate and later signed into law in 1997.

"The Texas managed care reform law has worked well for Texas' patients during the past two years, and I believe that these same rights and protections should be extended to all Americans," Congressman Turner said.  "Patients are entitled to know that their doctors are in charge of their health care and employers who provide insurance for their employees deserve to know they are purchasing quality care for their employees."

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